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Indian Embroidery- Manipuri
India is known for its diverse cultures that exist in harmony. Each culture and region has its own unique form of art and embroidery. The embroidery of each place has its roots in the culture of the region.
Embroidery of Manipur:
Manipur has a unique embroidery of its own. Manipur is a state in northern India, it is a beautiful place surrounded by hills. Valleys and lakes. It abounds in people who enjoy music and dance. The people of Manipur are skilled in many arts and crafts. The women shoulder the main burden of society.
The women of Manipur also do fine and delicate embroidery. The embroidery is usually done on the border of the phaneyk which is worn by women like a sarong. The phaneyk is a woven piece of fabric in dark stripes against a light background. It is woven by the women themselves. It is common to find a loin or pit loom in almost every household in Manipur.
The colors most commonly used in embroidery are white, black, red, green and yellow. The motifs used are butterfly, elephant, cockerel etc, but more commonly used is the “Akyobi” design which is worked in two shades of red with a bit of black and white. It is a circular design, one circle joining the other, with each circle being further broken up into patterns, each with a significant motif and special name.
The central round motif like a dot is believed to be e bee which flies around the lotus flower sucking its honey. The four petals on the side of the dot are known as the ‘moil’ the most tender part of the lotus bud.
The half open circular designs are known as the khoi mayek which means a fishing hook. The W shaped design in the bow. The border is called the tendwa.
Hijai mayek is embroidered in black and white, and is worn by widows, elderly women and at funerals. It shows running lines and circular movements. Other motifs used are battle scenes, swords etc.
Other fabrics to be embroidered besides the phanek are:
1) Zamphie - war cloth worn by warriors at the time of war, used by a few people. It was honored by the king.
2) Ningthoupee - kings cloth
3) Saijomba - long coat worn by trusted courtiers of the king, which had special embroidery
4) Phirananba: These are the small flags delicately embroidered and used by the warriors as plumes on their turbans, each designated the rank.
5) Kumil or ras shirt
The stitches used in embroidery are the satin stitch and the Romanian stitch.