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Gourd Craft of Mizoram

Natural Fiber

Gourd Craft of Mizoram

The craft of making articles from gourds is practiced in the state of Mizoram. Locally known as um, gourds are cultivated for food as well as for making containers for storage purposes. Objects such as water containers/Tuithawl, nicotine water containers/Tuibur um, Animal fat container/Sa-um bur etc. are crafted by the artisans. Smaller gourds are used for animal fat containers and bigger ones for water containers. The biggest one called chhura umpui is used for making a vessel which can store over 25 litres of water.  Due to fast consumerism, these containers are being substituted by ones made out of glass and plastic. 

The sowing of gourds takes place in the months of April and May after completion of the jhum process which involves slashing and burning to clear the forest for cultivation. The plants start budding by September to October as the ash deposited after burning the foliage acts as a natural fertilizer. It takes another two months of November and December for the gourd to harden and darken before it is finally harvested. For encasing the gourd thin strips out of cane are braided intricately around its mouth and body. Following this the gourds are strung above the fireplace in order to be smoked for further darkening purposes. 

Tools such as a bill hook knife/dao are used for the crafting the containers. 

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