Textiles

Manipur produces a variety of special fabrics including moiraingphee, leirum, lasingphee and phanek. The cotton and silk sarees of Manipur, including the famed Moirangphee, are admired for their pretty floral patterns. The warm Lanshingphee blankets and shawls are available in a variety of weaves with a variety of colours and patterns. Besides, you can shop for scarves and bed covers. The tribal textiles of the state are typically woven on a loin-loom. A warp of manageable length and breadth is prepared and fastened at one end generally to the wall of a house or to two fixed poles, while the other is tied to the waist of the weaver with a cotton or leather belt. Sometimes the belt is woven out of cane or bamboo. The Ninthou phee and akoibi handlooms are based on snake motifs and these designs are mostly found on phaneks, which are widely worn by the women of the state.

Textiles

Pottery

Manipur is renowned for its unique Longpi pottery, which is done with the help of a mixed paste of ground black serpentine stone and special brown clay, only found in Longpi village. This ancient art belongs to the Longpi Khullen and Longpi Kajui villages of the state and has gained prominence in the international markets, thanks to the intricate designs of the pottery articles.

Pottery

Pena

The reverberating sound of the bowed mono-string pena is an integral part of all the famous festivals held in Manipur, including the Lai Haraoba festivals. This indigenous stringed instrument is also known as bena in parts of Assam. It has two parts  the penamasa and the pena cheijing. Earlier used to invoke the gods, today it is used in all kinds of performances, including music concerts. The musical instrument is synonymous with Manipur and is also the oldest musical instrument of the Metei group of people. The instrument finds its use in folk music, solo and group musical performances and even as an accompanying instrument for the classical Manipuri dance. The nagas call it tingtelia and it is also played in some parts of Bangladesh.

Pena

Pung Cholom

Also known as Mrindanga Kirtan or Dhumal or Drum Dance, Pung Cholom is a famous dance style of Manipur that involves dancing and playing a drum at the same time. The hand beaten drum is known as pung and was introduced by Khuyoi Tompok, who ruled Manipur between 154 and 264 AD. The dance form is performed exclusively by men. The dancers showcase a beautiful blend of grace and acrobatics without breaking the rhythm or flow of music. The dance performance begins on a gentle note and eventually builds up to a thunderous climax. It borrows elements from traditional Manipuri martial arts like thang ta and sarit sarak. Nata Sankirtan, an important ceremonial dance in Manipuri culture, has the pung playing generously throughout.

Pung Cholom

Folk dances

The folk dances of Manipur, with their charming costumes, best represent its rich culture and traditions. The Raas Leela, portraying the rare bond between Lord Krishna and his consort Goddess Radha, is a special favourite. It is usually performed in the mandap in front of a temple. The love of the gopis for Lord Krishna is also focused upon in this dance. Another traditional symbolic dance performance is done during the spring festival of Lal Haraoba, which is celebrated during April-May. During this festival, a symbolic traditional dance aimed at peace and prosperity is also performed. Besides, several other vibrant folk dances expressing nature, creation and aestheticism, are performed here. At the Shree Shree Govindajee temple, a special performance of Vasanta Ras is held on a full-moon night of Hiyangei in November.

Folk dances

Wari Liba

This traditional art of narrating tales was started in the 17th century. In this, songs were used to tell various stories by villagers who would want to sing about harvesting, collecting firewood, fishing and hunting. Khulang Ishei is one such Manipuri folk song known for its lovely theme and romantic content.

Wari Liba

Cane and bamboo products

Cane and bamboo craft is an inseparable part of the daily lives of the people of Manipur. The state is the second-largest producer of bamboo in the Northeast and the skilled craftsmen make a range of beautiful products from sofa sets, mats, tables, chairs to flower vases, ashtrays and different types of decorative and daily use articles. Basketry is another popular craft associated with cane and bamboo and involves joining cane and bamboo with bamboo strips. Bamboo stems are also used to create hand fans, fish traps, umbrellas, floor mats and headgear. The hollow inner-nodes of bamboo make ideal beer-mugs, hukhas, pipe and musical instruments. The people of Manipur use different bamboo and cane articles for different purposes. For instance, for ceremonies like birth, death and marriage, you can opt for phiruk (an intricately woven basket) and lukmai (a small basket). For home decor, you can choose from baskets such as likhai, sangbai, chengbon, meruk, among others. Longup and Tungbol are among the equipment that the people of the Maring and Meeteis tribes make for fishing.

Cane and bamboo products

Khongjom Parva

Khongjom Parva is a traditional musical art of Manipur that involves ballad singing accompanied with the sounds of a dholak or drum. The art form depicts stories of the heroic battle of Khonjom, fought by the people of Manipur against the British empire in April 1891. Khongjom Parva is one of the most popular musical art forms of the state and incites the spirit of patriotism and nationalism in the audience. It was Dhobi Leinou who thumped his hands on his knees, and at times on an empty tin nearby, who started singing it. The narrators of Khongjom Parva focus on the brave Manipuri soldiers who gave up their lives for their country. Now, even great epics such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata are sung in this manner, along with the traditional Manipuri stories of Khamba and Thoibi as well as those about the exploits of Manipurs great rulers.

Khongjom Parva