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Embroidery of Manipur

Embroidery

Embroidery of Manipur

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This area has one kind of embroidery, which uses one stitch, in deference to the weavers in the area. This is done on the border of the phanek, which is a lungi or lower body wrap worn by women, in a dark matching shade with untwisted silk thread. The colour is usually dark red, plum, or chocolate. The lungi has dark stripes woven on a light background. The embroidery is done so finely that it does not clash with the weave and is often mistaken for it. The phanek is sometimes a plain fabric in a dark shade or with plain stripes in three colours and the embroidery is the only adornment.
The most significant design in Manipur embroidery is the akoybi and the colours used are two shades of red with a little black and a touch of white. Akoybi is an elegant snake-like pattern or design, derived from the legendary snake, pakhamba (killed by the husband of a goddess, who later tried to atone for this act by imitating the pattern). Akoybi means circular, and the pattern is one circle joining the other, each broken further with a significant motif. The colours used are two shades of red, along with black and white. Hijay is another pattern where black and white, along with shades of pink, are used in a continuous pattern.
Animal motifs are found on black shawls which are called Angami Naga shawls. This was previously called sami lami phee (which means warrior cloth of wild animals) and was given to brave distinguished warriors by the royalty, in recognition of their prowess and ability. The horizontal panels are woven bands of colour and the motifs include elephants and camels. The colours are bright green, red, yellow, and white.
White on white appliqué embroidery done on turbans is extremely delicate. Abhala or mirror-embroidery work is done only on ras dance costume. The indigenous inhabitants of Manipur are the meithei community. They have designs called tindogbi; the inspiration is from a silk caterpillar sitting on a castor leaf and eating it. Shamilami, a combination of weaving and embroidery, is considered a high status symbol. Maibung is a natural design inspired from wood grains and hijamayak design is associated with death ceremonies.

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