Information on Traditional Crafts, arts, handicrafts of Meghalaya - India   Encyclopedia of Tours and Travel to Meghalaya, featuring information on Fairs & Festivals, Wildlife, Excursion, Adventure and Weather of Meghalaya.
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Traditional Crafts

Meghalaya is the homeland of three ancient hill communities, the Khasis, the Garos and the Jaintias. She is renowned for her scenic beauty. Nature has affected man psychologically and in a metaphysical sense. This has given rise to other interesting creative trends that are characteristically symbolic, religious and pictographic. There are a number of crafts found in Meghalaya and the significant ones are cane and bamboo work, artistic weaving and wood carving. However, difficulties are many. The extraction of bamboos from the Garo Hills is a very difficult one that a man with a good experience of the work would be necessary. Transportation poses as a hindrance too. The most important of all difficulties is the necessary capital required to undertake the work.

Species of Bamboo
Bamboo grows wild and some are specially grown. Meghalaya is rich in the varied kinds of bamboo. Some species include Ryngngai, a hard stem with thinBamboo And Cane Craft leaves; Tyr-a, a kind of jungle cane; Siej Shrah, a hard stem with longer spans; Trylaw, prevalent in West Khasi Hills; Skong, a thin stem somewhat corky bark; Siej, a small smooth stem; Siej lieh, (a Koka Specie), Ry-ia-n, a thin bamboo with fewer leaves; Nam land, very small tender shoot; Japung similar to a raddan plant; Kdait (akra) and Sylli similar to Japung; Lana, a sort of broomstick, Siej iong used as chunga, and tube for carrying water; Shken, this has a smooth skin; Siej bri considered as an inferior bamboo; Rimet and Riphin, these are canes. Ryngngai, this is used for constructions; Try-a, this is used for making fences, barns and walls; Trylaw, this is very good for factorial use and paper making; Ry-ia-in, this is used as a string for moulding and wrapping; Kdait, this is good for making house walls; Bamboo shoots or Lung siej, for making condiments, is seen on the north; Straw or u Sder and Tynriew a palm growing in the south are good for thatching housing.

Bamboo and Cane Crafts
Cane and bamboo craft occupies an important place in the economy of the state, next only to agriculture. The artisans attend to the craft when free from agriculture. The products of bamboo and cane are mostly of two types, namely (i) articles required for day to day use and of medium quality, more suited to local requirements; and (ii) articles of finer quality, both decorative and functional, to meet the requirements and tastes of more sophisticated markets. The Khasis are known for creating attractive cane baskets and sieves. The Garos are also rich in the various forms of bamboo culture. Garo Hills are rich in bamboo and cane. Some of them include also a few species resembling Khasi bamboo and cane. As bamboo groves occupy a good quantum of forest lands, now further steps can be taken to develop other small scale or supplementary mills. There are many kinds of constructions and craft made from bamboo such as various kinds of basket and mat making. The semi-tropical climatic condition characterise the bamboo culture and influence the growth of a rich variety of bamboo. Articles such as baskets (locally known as khok or thugis) are popular. Artistic baskets known as meghum khoks are made in the Garo Hills, and are used by tribals to store valuable items including clothes.

Pokerwork, in which designs are burnt into the bamboo with a red-hot pointed rod, is also done by the Garos. Khasi women in Meghalaya wear an attractive large round hat composed of a circular bamboo frame with a thick brim that is covered with cloth. The crown is worked with a pretty lattice design of cane at the edge and the top, each triangle in the pattern being tipped with a small circular blob. Mats, moorahs and Khasi umbrellas (locally known as kurup) are made in light and medium qualities.

The skills involved in these crafts have been handed down from one generation to the other through centuries. Bamboo / Cane being a readily available commodity in the North Eastern States, almost every conceivable household item is made out of this raw material. The items made out of Cane and Bamboo include furniture, cradles for babies, headgears, rain-shields, baskets for transportation / storage of items, containers, dishes/ saucers/ spoons/ fork, fish/ animal traps, tribal costumes and related accessories, musical instruments such as flute/ trumpet/ mouth organ/ cup violin, tobacco pipe, tribal implements/ weapons and Mats. Babmoo/ Cane is also extensively used for construction of traditional houses.

Costumes and Jewellery Jewellery Of Meghalaya
The three major tribes of Meghalaya have distinct costumes and jewellery. However, with the change of time as in the rest of the country, the males have adopted the western code of dress leaving the ladies to continue the tradition of ethnic sartorial elegance.

The Khasi lady wears a dress called 'Jainsem' which flows loose to the ankles. The upper part of her body is clad in a blouse. Over these, she ties both ends of a checkered cotton cloth on one shoulder, thus improvising on apron. On formal occasions, worn over the 'Jympien' is a long piece of Assam muga silk called 'Ka Jainsem Dhara' which hangs loose below the knees after being knotted or pinned at the shoulders. The 'Tapmohkhlieh' or head-shawl is either worn by knotting both ends behind the neck or is arranged in a stylish manner as done with a shawl.

The Jaintia maidens dresses like her Khasi counterpart but with the additional of a 'Kyrshah' - a checkered cloth tied round the head during harvesting. On formal occasions, however, she dons a velvet blouse, drapes a striped cloth called 'Thoh Khyrwang', sarong style round her waist and knots at her shoulder an Assam muga piece hanging loose to her ankles. In contrast, the Garo women wears a blouse, a raw cotton 'Dakmanda' which resembles a 'Lungi' and the 'Daksari' which wrapped like a 'Mekhla' as worn by Assamese ladies.

The jewellery of the Khasis and the Jaintias are also alike and the pendant is called 'Kynjri Ksiar', being made of 24 carat gold. The Khasis and the Jaintias also wear a string of thick red coral beads round their neck called 'Paila during festive occasions. The Garo ladies wear Rigitok, which are thin fluted stems of glass strung by fine thread.

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Information on Traditional Crafts, arts, handicrafts of Meghalaya - India

 
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