Bamboo Basketry of Mizoram

Cane, Bamboo

Bamboo Basketry of Mizoram

Mizoram is the home of the Mizos, which means dwellers of the hill top. The Lushai tribe is the single largest group, with the Pwoi and the Lakher being smaller tribes. While women excel at weaving, men are experts at cane and bamboo work.
Bamboo is found in abundance on the hills and the people utilize it several purposes.

Bamboo baskets are one of the most popular forms of craftsmanship with this material. Among the other products crafted from bamboo are houses, furniture, kitchen implements, agricultural tools, weaving tools and jewellery. Furniture items include chairs, tables, sofas, moorahs, and bamboo screens. Umbrella-handles, knitting needles, hats, mugs, fish baskets, rain shields, pipes, toys and games, hand-held pipes and the back-strap loin-loom are all made from bamboo and cane. The flooring and the walls of the Mizo houses are made with bamboo with thatched roofs. Houses that are over hundred years old can still be seen standing in Mizoram.

Basket making is done mostly by the men and the products are uncommonly beautiful. Each home weaves its baskets and it is only recently that basketry has become a commercial activity among the people of the region. The variety of styles and uses that the bamboo basket is put to is fascinating. The conical bamboo basket called paikwang is a typical Mizo basket, broad at the rim and tapering at the bottom, and is used to carry firewood, cotton, vegetables, and other items. The paiem is a closed-weave basket and is used for carrying grain. It is woven with four long bamboo splints at the corners. The lower half of the basket is square and as it opens out at the top it becomes circular. Baskets made of cane and bamboo, together with leaves and grasses, are also made.

Traditionally, the technique used for making bamboo baskets was also used to make caps called known as lukhum. The lukhum cap is woven in two layers and each layer is made from strips woven in an open hexagonal weave. The inner layer is used as a mold on which the construction of outer layer takes place. The area between the outer and inner layers is filled with dry palm leaves. The top of the cap is made in a swirl by joining it with both the layers while the ends of both the layers are stitched with piping to give it a finished rim.




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