Black Manipur Pottery Cane and Bamboo Woven Shawls and Sarongs

Craftsmen : A.S. Tamreipam
Black Pottery is handcrafted by Thankhul Naga tribes of the Ukhrul district of Manipur.This pottery is traditionally known as Longpi Ham.Longpi pottery is of a royal descent as its products could only be owned and used by the noble families of Manipur. They were mostly used to cook special dishes of meat on occasions like marriages or other festivities. Different types of pots are made for ritualistic and ceremonial purposes. The pottery is purely functional and mainly black in colour. A major ingredient of this black ware pottery is hard serpent nine rock, which needs to be crushed and mixed with a few other ingredients including clay to mould into pots, traditionally used for cooking. The most incredible aspect is that there is no potter's wheel. The artisans use basic bamboo implements and the appropriate movements of their body to give shape to their creations. The black pottery items include cups, vases, cooking utensils. It is said that the meat cooked in these pots tastes heavenly. The blackware pottery demonstrates how deeply traditional crafts are linked with nature. Each ingredient, the rock and the clay is obtained from the immediate environment. A very natural, non-mechanised process completes the process leading to the final products. The tools used, are made of bamboo; the pots are moulded on logs of wood or stone slabs - all natural products
Since cane and bamboo are abundantly available, basketry has been a popular occupation of the people of Manipur. Different shapes and sizes with different designs are manufactured for domestic and ritualistic purposes. Heijing Kharai, Phiruk & Lukmai are exclusively meant for ceremonies such as wedding, birth and death. For domestic purposes baskets like Likhai, Sangbai, Chengbon, Meruk, Morah etc. are made. Again, there are fishing equipments made of cane and bamboo. They are Longup, Tungbol etc. People of Maring tribe inhabiting the Chandel District are the main manufacturers of these types of basket. Other tribes and the Meeteis also contribute a lot to the production of baskets.
The women of Manipur are expert in weaving cotton textiles.It is said that goddess "Panthoibi" drew her inspiration for weaving, from a spider making cobwebs in a corner. While almost every household in Manipur owns a loom, women folk alone are weavers. Intricate designs are woven on sarees, sarongs, shawls and bedspreads. The handloom industry is the largest cottage industry in Manipur.