MSF 2015: Artistic embroidery designs of Longjam Pishak

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Phanek Mayek Naiba (formal loin cloth of women) is a precious traditional Manipuri fabric which showcases and upholds the identity of Manipuri womenfolk. It is made by silk or cotton. It has stripes and embroidery of traditional artistic designs on the bottom. This formal women dress comes in different colours and qualities. Some of its names are Thambal Leikhok, Loirang, Meiri Makhong, Sana Manbi, Pheege and Pheege Manbi etc.61-year-old Longjam Pishak Devi, wife of RK Bhubonsana of Laipham Khunou, Imphal East is among the Artisans well versed in embroideryworks of Phanek Mayek Naiba.
The Artisan demonstrates how different designs are manually embroidered on the bottom of Phanek Mayek Naiba at Meetei Yumjao,traditional house constructed at the Heritage Park of the ongoing Manipur Sangai Festival 2015.
“Traditionally, Phanek Mayek Naibi is woven in loin looms by Meetei woman. Khoi Mayek, Khoi Charong, Ningam Samjee, Tharoi Mamai, Potloi Mayek, Hijam Mayek, Pheege Phijol are some of the popular motifs manually embroidered on the bottom of Phanek Mayek Naiba. Among these motifs, “Pheege Phijol” which was widely used by Manipuri woman in the olden days is now on the verge of extinction as contemporary Manipuri women hardly use it, she said.
Phanek Mayek Naibi is a formal dress and these are mostly worn in functions and ceremonies like marriage, Jeigya, Swasti Puja, Heijingpot, Ningol Chakkouba etc”, Pishak said.
Mother of two children, Longjam Pishak said that she began embroidery works on Phanek Mayek Naibi at her tender age. She learnt the art from her mother, a handloom Artisan by profession. She said that embroidery works on the Phanek Mayek Naibi is a tiresome work. She takes 10-15 days to finish embroidery works. She charges Rs 1500 on completion of embroidery works on a Phanek Mayek Naibi.
Pishak is also an expert in weaving Shaphee Lanphee, a popular Manipuri traditional fabric which is a symbol of courage. In olden days, these were presented by Meetei Kings to his brave warriors.

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