Manipuri textile – Naoroibam Indramani

Contd. from 9th September 2018

Department of weaving :

The manuscript `Loishang Lingkhatpa’, the account of the establishment of various administrative departments during the reign of different kings in Manipur, gives a valuable information about the first establishment of the Thishaba Loishang’, the Department of weaving during the time of Meidingu Pakhangba. He was the first historical king of Manipur who reigned from 33 to 154 A.D. From that time the department had its responsibilities for the task of making royal clothes of various designs. `Charei Phishahanba’ was the head of this department. The manuscript Ningthouphi Shaba’ gives us the name of royal weavers that `Laikokshu Charei Phishahanba’ was the head of the department during the time king Khuiyoi Tompok. ‘Aka Phishahanba’ was the head of the department during the time of king Naophangba and `Roso Phishahanba’ was the head of the department of weaving during the time of Meidingu Loiyumba.

The text of the manusaipt `Loiyumba Silyen’ gives some names of royal weavers of the time of Meidingu Loiyumba such as Naotam Phishaba, Ngangdi Phishaba, Yangnu Phishaba, Heisu Naha Phishaba, etc.

The duties performed by the `Phishaba’ (weavers), according to the text, `Masil’ was the weaving of `Ningthouphi Phirel’ (special royal cloth), `Ningthouphi Kapei Shingnangpal’, `Ningthouphi Wanphak’, `Ningthouphi Tachin’, etc. and in the same text `Masil’, the duties for weaving of the `Ningthouphi’ (royal cloth) were allotted to different weavers which were divided into different sections.

Duties assigned to Surnames for weaving cloth:

The reign of Meidingu Loiyumba (1074-1122 A.D.) is most remarkable in the history of textile culture of Manipur. During his time particular works were assigned to different `Yurnnaks’ (surname) so as not to mix with one another in different works. In a real sense, he had maintained the strict division of labour among his subjects. In his time, suitable `Yumnaks’ were also given to those engaged in particular works. The manuscript `Loiyumba Silyen’ is a text which gives valuable information about the assignment to different `Yumnaks’ to weave different cloth items which were used in various purposes. According to this manuscript, during the time of this king, the following information was highlighted as under :-

Surname Kind of cloth
Thingujam Mungphi
Lairellakpam Laiphi
Kaswam Wana Kadang Phi
Chakpathiyam Laiphi Tongkap
Chakpalambam Phirel
Kangbajam Langdom Phi
Thongkabam Yairong Phi (Yarong Phi)
Khumallambam Chami Phi
Haokhom Tongkap Phi
Laikhrambam Sharong Phi
Salchiram Leirum
Wahengbam Dolaikup Phi
Kabacham Dolai Thana Phi
Abujam Phiroi Phi
Haodeijam Heikoi Phi
Thoidingjam Shingkhal Phi
Thongbam Laiyek Phi
Kongbam Purum Phi
Chingakhalbam Fakang Phi
Thoudam Tarao Phi
Thinbam Pumthit Phi
Taibangjam Phimu Yekpasung Phi
Yumlenbam Nongphi
Okthiyambam Khunung Musumphi
Khoirisumbam Khunung Chumkhanphi
Yumnaksangbam Chingkhongphi Phimu
Khoisnam Phimu Lanphi
Singkhangbam Khunung Mathang Phi
Chingkhwambam Karouphi Phingang
Wangbajam Sangmu Langmu Phi

Not only the duties of weaving cloth, Meidingu loiyumba but also had his patronage on the traditional dyes. The manuscript `Loiytunba Silyen’ further reports regarding the distribution of tasks for dyeing various colours to different surnames as under:-

Surname Kind of cloth
Akangchambam Leirel Khoipaklei (light pink)
Chingkhwambam Chingshang Muyumlei (deep pink)
Yiroibam Makong Meiri Manba (Saffron, dark flame red)
Phisaba Ngamba Naha Loirang Thaochulei (brownish black)
(expert artisan) Higok Nanou (light blue)
Khumanthembam Kumlang Kumbal Lei (black)
Khumukcham Chingya Napu Lei (yellow)
Yipushangbam Taojing Heitroi Lei (brownish red)
Ushiyambam Wana Katang Manba Sanglen Yaichu Lei

From such informations available in the text of `Loiyumba Silyen’, it can easily be known that during the reign of king Loiyumba, the textile culture of Manipur reached its zenith.

Traditional dresses :

Manipur has its various items of traditional dresses since the time long back. The traditional dresses of the Meiteis are divided as the dresses of the male and the dresses of the female and further it can be classified again into the following as (1) Dresses for the deities, (2) Coronation dresses of the king and queen, (3) dresses for the festivals, (4) dresses for dancing, (5) dresses for mourning, (6) royal dresses for the king and queen, (7) dresses for the noblemen, (8) dresses for daily life of the commoners, etc.

to be contd.



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