Prestigious Sant Kabir Awardee in Handloom and a traditional weaver – Langpoklakpam Subadini

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Langpoklakpam Subadini Devi wife of L. Ibopishak, Wangkhei Tokpam Leikai Imphal East was born in a traditional weaver’s family at Huikap Mayai Leikai Imphal East during the year 1949. She learnt the art of weaving from her mother and aunt. She is experienced in traditional and modern weaving for about 50 years.

She was awarded the first prize and best marketing in Handloom as well in a festival of Handloom and Handicraft, Imphal during 1992. In the Industrial Exhibition 1993, she received the first prize. She was placed the first position at an exhibition of women’s Handloom and Handicrafts products in 1998.

She received National Award for her contribution to the development of Moirangphee with excellence in Textile designing during 1993. She was also conferred the prestigious Sant Kabir Award – 2011 for her outstanding and valuable contribution in keeping alive the handloom heritage.  

Subadini a traditional weaver

“ In earlier time around 10 people use make thread out of crop cotton at a place (sangoi) and make thread – Tarengna moithap naiba – Tareng da lang chakpa. The thread are then weaved into cloths at a loom. The cloth is then decorated with embroidered designs and a product is completed.

Nowadays we procure thread as well as cloth from the shop. I was just 15 years old when I started to weave clothes. I was born in 1949. During 1964 we use to make thread from cotton. Loyum – Kwangda saba phi is my specialty. It needs two people to make a cloth in this type of loom but I use to do it single handedly.

Phirang, athuppi were some of the popular clothes in Manipur in olden times. In India only ten people are saant kabir awardee.

These days we do not have cotton to make clothes so we get garments, if we have cotton we can make our own clothes”, narrated Subadini.

More on Moirangphee – Ningtham Samjin’ with which Subadini got National Award.

The cotton sheet named Ningtham Samjin with pattern at the end and Moirangphee design at the top and bottom of the sheet is a rare traditional profession woven exclusively by the industrious women – folk of Manipur in throw shuttle and fly shuttle looms.

It consists of two pieces of clothes sewn by the hand to the edges. The patterned cloth was used by the hero of Moirang –Khamba who caught and slew a wild bull and killed a ferocious tiger during the reign of King Chingkhu Telheiba of Moirang during 1083 A.D to 1138 A.D.

This patterned cotton sheet is now particularly in the religious and marriage ceremonies as the upper garment of the ladies.

Prestigious Sant Kabir Award for Subadini

She is the first to get Sant Kabir award in Handloom from Manipur. Only ten people from across the Nation were selected for this award. It is given for keeping alive and preserving traditional way of making clothes.  

She will be receiving a sum of Rupees 6 Lakhs from the award. She will also train ten skilled weavers and send ten different finished products for keeping in a museum at Delhi under Sant Kabir Award. Theory and making of garments practically will be part of the training program.

Video coverage during the making of the garments from the starting point to end will also be sent under the yearlong project. During the training period I will be coordinating the Weavers Service Centre Office at Porompat, the authority in Manipur.

July 1, 2014 she will be receiving the Sant Kabir Award as she leaves for Delhi on 29th June.

A recognized market point and Subadini’s guided products

Subadini started to gain popularity after she receive first prize in 1992 where the Governor of Manipur handed over an award.

People from all part of the State come and buy clothes from the residence of Subadini at Wangkhei Tokpam Leikai. Her customer includes people from Industry Department, Cooperative Society and Eminent personalities of Manipur.   

Presently she guides several weavers on designs and the products are being marketed through her. Silk saree, cotton saree,chuni, luhongba chatpada ennaba phi, phigae muka, kwang phanek, bed cover salwar, and marriage sets are some of the products.

Langthang khullak, Ningkham sanjin, khoi charong. Khamba gi ningkham da happa  Kwangda punba phi dugi mayek are some of her popular designs to mention few.                    

Artisans are making clothes at Kongba, Checkon, Bhamon Kampu, Wangkei etc under Subadini’s guidance. She use to collect finished products from them and stock them at her residence where people come and buy the products.

During marriage ceremony she often sell clothe worth Rs 40 – 50 thousands a day, sometimes Rs 10 – 20  Thousands and someday nil. Usually people buy clothes on a good day based on the lunar calendar of Manipur Subadini remarked. After an illness she quit making clothes during 1992.

As she participated in International Trade Fair, New Delhi people use to order products where she could not supply. Mostly demanded orders include chuni dupatta, phanek one ply, moirang phi hatpa clothes piece for them to make salwar.

Cooperation among Artisan for growth

She opined that there are skilled artisans and if we do not highlight they remains useless and limited. There is a growing needs for good corporations among artisans for a conducive growth.

So far Subadini has trained two sets of unskilled artisans where certificates and stipends were distributed under the sponsorship of textiles ministry. The trained artisans along with their certificates are eligible for many grants to be applied for. Some of her students have already started to do brisk business.