Cane and bamboo is available in plenty in the hilly state of Meghalaya in North East India. The fibre grows very fast and some variety can even grow by a meter per day. Many varieties are available here, some species include: Ryngngai, a hard stem with thin leaves, Tyr-a, a kind of jungle cane, Siej Shrah, a hard stem with longer spans, Siej, a small smooth stem, Skong, a thin stem somewhat corky bark and Trylaw, prevalent in West Khasi Hills.
Bamboo is used for making everything from everyday items to houses. Different varieties of baskets are made in Meghalaya. The artistic baskets are known as meghum khoks locally. Khoks or thugis and other baskets are used to store different day to day items. The khasi tribals are masters in weaving cane into mats, stools and even umbrellas, known as Kurup in the local language.
The Khasi basket is comical in form with a large rim and coarse closed weave. It is carried on the back with the help of a broad braided head strap. Garos set an excellent example of refined craftsmanship by making another closed weave bamboo basket which is used for carrying grain and other shopping items. One can also find miniature replicas of Khasi baskets sold as souvenirs.
There are different types of bamboo baskets available:
- The Open Weave Carrying Basket: Khasi Pig Basket – As the name suggests, is a basket used to transport pigs and is seen being used in the Khasi Hills.
- Khoh: The Closed Weave Basket – Is used by the Khasi tribe of Meghalaya for general-purpose marketing. This basket is carried on the back by a head-strap. The rim is a circle of diameter 420 mm and the sides taper down sharply along a straight line to form a point at the base. The height of the basket is 620 mm. The warp elements in the side weave are bent sharply at the base, before continuing up the opposite side.
- Khasi Fruit Basket- This basket is used for packing and transporting fruit and vegetables. It is similar in structure to the khoh. The form of this basket is like a parabolic dome. Wide outer splits of bamboo are used in the warp, overlapping radially to form the base. The first few turns of the weft spiral is made from fairly thin bamboo splits
- Shang: Shallow Weave Basket – The Shang is a shallow storage and shop-display basket used by the Jaintia tribe of Meghalaya and made from split bamboo. It has a square base of diagonal 240 mm and the sides spread out to a circular rim of diameter 430 mm. Its height is 240 mm. The base is woven in a twill weave in four-fold symmetry around the centre. A spiralling weft element forms the side weave that has an inverted herringbone pattern along the centre line of each side.
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