TODAY -

Cultural Heritage Complex
- Part 2-

By: Mutua Bahadur *


TRADITIONAL WORK SHED
This is a kind of work shed for processing lost wax. This work shed is made of bamboo and its roof is covered with thatch. There is lathe machine for giving finishing touch to the end products like utensil. It is 6.00 m. in length and 2.40 m. in breath.

In this shed, we displayed the various ornaments and utensils which are made in the lost wax process. There are also other ornaments of man and woman, which are not that of lost wax process. Nowadays the craftsman no longer produce ornaments in the lost wax process except a few items like utensil which are compulsory in the gift items of marriage ceremony. The tradition of lost wax process was started in Manipur since the 2nd century A.D.

Bell-metal utensil
Senjeng is a local word for bell-metal. Utensils made of bell-metal are commonly used items of the Meeteis. Some particular utensils made of bell-metal are considered compulsory items in marriage ceremony from ancient times. Bell-metal was used to mint coins, to cast utensils for domestic and ritualistic practices, parts of musical instruments are still in use today.

In the 16th century, the barrels of guns were cast in bell-metal. In Cheitharol Kumbaba, we come across a record mentioning the use of bell-metal


FIG 6



sheets for roofing during the period of King Charairongba in the 17th century. Historical records maintain that the use of bell-metal is evident from early period. Bell-metal coins were in circulation beginning from the period of Meetei King Nongda Lairen Pakhangba (33-156 A.D.) till the period of King Kulachandra (1890-91 A.D.).

During the reign of King Chandrakriti in 1879, a bell-metal weighing 8 mounds was cast for Shri Shri Govindajee Temple with bell-metal coins. This bell is now broken and disused but still kept in the premises of the Temple. According to old records, in the period of Khuyoi Tompok (154-264 A.D.) handicrafts flourished most along with bell-metal works.

Loyumba Sinyen, a Royal Proclamation on division of labour was enforced by King Loyumba in the 11th century. This contributed to the growth of trade through specialization and consolidation of craftsmanship among particular clans and localities. Under this proclamation, the group engaged in the trade of metal casting has come to be known as Aheibam, those belong to the metal casting professional group, (the word aheiba meaning casting).

Jewellery and Ornaments
The ornaments are produced on two levels. Some ornaments are worked on with tools, and others are fashioned through the moulding process. Ornaments designed with the inner portion filled up with resin are taken as a sign of high skill on the part of the goldsmith. But it is lighter than a solid ornament. Moulding with bees wax for casting is done, as a practice, by married women. Men are engaged only in casting. The parts of a necklace are modeled separately with beeswax. Intricate designs are engraved with the help of a tool known as Khoiru Chindumbi.


FIG 7


FIG 8


WAITING SHED AND PUPPET EXHIBITION
There are three different types of puppet in Manipur. They are Globe puppet, Shadow puppet and String puppet. The use of Globe puppets had been lost its place in the society after the Second World War. The Shadow puppets were also popularly used during and after Second World War. But the practice could not sustain in the flow of time. The String puppets are commonly used in the villages as a part of dance performance like Raslila, Gourlila, etc. The different forms of String puppets are Siva, Parvati, Nandi and Bhangi, snakes and peacocks, etc. The show of String puppets is usually done before the commencement of Raslila performance or/and in the interval of the dance performance. (The player performs the dance of String puppets by falling down at the centre of a mandap from the ceiling). These puppets are normally made of paper and cloth.


FIG 9



To be continued ....


Mutua Bahadur


* Mutua Bahadur contributes to e-pao.net regularly. This article was webcasted on April 09, 2010.


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