Manipur “The Jewelled Land” is one of the seven sisters’ states of north eastern India. The state is blessed with scenic beauty of hills and valleys and also with the heritage of handloom and weaving. The traditional costumes of north eastern India are known for their colourful and vibrant attire. And Manipuri costumes hold no exception in standing out for their dynamic trends of clothing.
The traditional dresses of Manipuri females differ from occasion to occasion but the major traditional dresses comprise Innaphi, Phanek, MayekNaibi, KanapPhanek, Lai-Phi, and Chin-Phi.
- Innaphi is a shawl that is worn on the upper body. It’s almost transparent in texture, which is a result of the way it’s woven.
- Phanek is a hand woven dress like a sarongand is most commonly worn by Manipuri women. It’s a wraparound skirt like dress. The traditional Phanek would be mostly either block colors or striped.
- A special type of Phanek is called MayekNaibi. The speciality and beauty of this Phanek is the horizontal stripes, which sure does beautifies the wearer of this dress.
- KanapPhanek, is a traditional cloth which is stitched by Meitai females.
- Lai-Phi - a yellow bordered beautiful white cloth.
- Chin-Phi – a Phanek full of embroidery, are the major traditional costumes of Manipuri women amongst several other costumes worn during several ceremonies.
Meitai women, usually, team up Phanek and Innaphi with a saree blouse.
Along with the Manipuri females, men also have very distinctive traditional clothing. The traditional clothing for men comprises turban (which is called as “Pagdhi”), a jacket and a dhoti. There is a special type of dhoti called KhamenChatpa; it’s worn by superior members of the society during rituals and ceremonies. In ancient times, KhamenChatpa was given as reward to brave people by the king as the token of appreciation.
Different occasions call for different kinds of dressing in Manipur. They have different traditional attires that are worn during specific festivals. For example, during Rasa LeelaKumins and Potlois is worn. And there are many other dresses which are worn during different dance festivals. Tribals in Manipur wear Phiranji, Lmaphie, Ningthoupee, and Saijounba.
As the state’s economy developed and westernisation influence increased, it affected the fashion sense of the people in Manipur accordingly. Youngsters can be seen wearing shirts, tees, jackets, skirts, and jeans. This change or modernisation is also due to the influence of Christianity. But as much as the modern or fashionable dresses have found its place in Manipur, the people are still inclined towards wearing their traditional costumes.
Modernisation has got the traditional attire modified to some extent and old designs of cloths have got a new modern-day look. The best example would be the women of Manipur wearing Innaphi with modern skirts. Innaphi, are now made up of cotton and silk but in ancient times it was made up of bark of creepers named Uriphi. Now modern sarongs are used as skirts, shawls and also as beach wear.
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