Manipur is a culturally enriched state with a deep-rooted cultural legacy inherited from the yesteryears. Also, in terms of scenic beauty, Manipur is a true paradise with its cloud clad blue hilltops, green undulating vales and gurgling rivulets. The true beauty of the state is well replicated through the rich and royal arts and crafts of Manipur. Manipuri embroidery makes an inseparable part of Manipuri art and craft and is done most artistically and painstakingly by Manipuri artisans. Women of Manipur play a dominant role in embroidering various types of cloths, garments and fabrics. Thus, embroidery-related artisanship of Manipur mostly comprises of the skilled hands of Manipuri women who create artistic masterpieces using a mere needle and bunch of threads. If you wish to learn more about the beauty, variety and ethnicity of Manipuri embroidery art, you may run a glance across the subsequent paragraphs.
Ayobi is a significant embroidery style from the land of Manipur and is usually dished out with exquisite brilliance on the Manipuri costumes like Phanek and Ningthouphee. ‘Ayobi’ in Manipuri language stands for ‘circle’ and thus the design shows intricate circular patterns with one circle linked to the other to form an elegant Serpent-like design. This serpent-like design is actually inspired by a legend which tells the story of Pakhamba, a mythical snake which was destroyed by a Goddess’s consort who later created this snake-like pattern out of repentance for the act. The circular patterns in Ayobi Embroidery are further segmented into more intricate patterns like ‘moil’, ‘tendwa’, ‘khoi mayek’. Moil pattern replicates a lotus bud’s softest part. The tendwa pattern constitutes the borders while khoi mayek or half circle patterns replicate the fishing hook. Use of red, black and white colors is seen in the Ayobi embroidery most predominantly.
The Hijay embroidery a unique continuous embroidery style crafted out of circular motifs and running lines. Generally pink, black and white threads are used in the Hijay Manipuri embroidery and one can also spot motifs depicting swords, battle scenes etc amid the base embroidery. Generally Hijay embroidered cloth is worn by elderly women of Manipur or by the widow or by those attending a funeral ceremony.
Tindogbi embroidery is very popular amongst Manipur’s Meithei community and features a unique designed inspired by the animal world. The design somewhat looks like a silkworm sitting and feasting on a verdant castor leaf.
Maibung is a special kind of nature-inspired embroidery. Maibung exhibits a mind blowing natural design resembling a piece of wood’s natural finish. The shades used to make Maibung embroidery are blue, chocolate, green and maroon. Maibung embroidery design is generally seen on Manipuri bedcovers and bed sheets.
Shamilami embroidery style makes use of bold colors and bright shades such as orange, black, blue, green, yellow. The embroidery shows distinct animal motifs such as that of elephants, butterflies, horses and is an exquisite blend of the art of weaving and art of embroidering. The embroidery style is named as ‘Shamilami’ because of animal patterns as ‘Shamilami’ in Manipuri language stands for ‘wild animal patterned warrior cloth’. As per common traditions, cloth bearing Shamilami embroidery was gifted by the king to brave warriors as a gesture of appreciation and recognition of their bravado and heroic feats. Thus possessing a Shamilami embroider cloth is considered as a symbol of status and honor. A Shamilami patterned cloth is also recognized as the Naga Angami chaddars as the Angami tribes of Nagaland often use this embroidery pattern on their shawls
Embroidery on Zamphie, Phirananba, Saijounba
Embroidery exhibited on the costumes like Zamphie, Phirananba and Saijounba is done with Romanian and Satin stitches and show delicate embroidery patterns like tiny flags, lines, circles etc.
Related: Traditional Dress of Manipur
Abhala embroidery is an enticing and gorgeous Manipuri style Mirror-work embroidery and is used mainly to adorn the costumes worn during the Ras festivals.
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Leirong embroidery depicts a beautiful floral pattern and is often recognized as Manipur’s mother or chief floral design. Orange, red, blue and green threads are usually made use of to sew the Leirong embroidery and one can commonly spot this embroidery style on table covers & bed covers.
So, these are some of the major types of Manipuri embroidery.
Related Photo: Major Types of Manipuri embroidery