Imphal, Feb.26 : A ten-day workshop to promote traditional wood carving and Totem art of Manipuri tribes was organized here recently.
Hosted by the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sanghralaya (national museum) of Bhopal in cooperation with the Tribal Museum and Research Centre of Imphal, the workshop offered a platform for traditional artistes.
Twenty artists from five tribes--Marams, Paomei, Kom, Tangkhul and Mao--showcased their work at the workshop.
The workshop's objective was to bring together Manipuri tribal craftsmen and motivate them to continue to preserve their traditional art and craft forms.
"The wood carving tradition of the tribal society and other indigenous groups reflects their socio-cultural and economic aspects. Their tradition is languishing day-by-day. To conserve and propagate their rich culture and tradition we organized this workshop," said N. Sakmacha, the Assistant Curator of the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya of Bhopal.
Manipur has over 33 Scheduled Tribes, and each of them has a distinct way of life. The tribes collectively present a richly variegated cultural mosaic.
Appreciating the initiative, Kaikho P.Fokerlo, a Mao tribe artisan, said: "It felt very good. It has brought in passion for the work. We do not have money and we are very poor. We cannot buy the material and other stuff for wood carving. They think that we can carry out the work like that, but it is not possible. This Indira Gandhi workshop has certainly provided great platform to us and we will support it."
An interesting feature of tribal art is that traditional wood carvings can adorn different parts of the house, gates and totem poles.
Wood carvings are symbolic of certain practices, such as honouring brave warriors and persons of status in their tribal society. Wood carvings are frequently seen in traditional houses in the Mao-Maram-Purul area of Manipur.
Human head motifs carved on the village chief's house at Purul are round in shape, whereas the human head seen at Oinam Village are relatively smaller and shorter by two times the actual size of a human head.
These art forms are built on the intrinsic relationship between culture, custom and traditions of tribal life.
For instance, residents of Koide village in Senapati District believe that the carving of Mithun (buffalo) head on the main pillar of the house brings prosperity to the family and the village community.