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Fashion Issue

Costumes of Meitei -A Reflection of Rich Cultural Heritage of Manipur

Introduction

 

The human race universally wears articles of clothing-also known as dress, garments, or attire-on the body in order to protect it against the adverse climate conditions. People wear clothing for functional as well as social reasons. Apart from the practical functions of placing a piece of garment above the skin, wearing clothes also carries specific cultural and social meanings. Religion, customs and of course, particular historically important circumstances have shaped the way different people in various times feel about clothing and exposure. Moreover, clothing has been regarded as one of the best ways to distinguish social classes, sexes, occupation, marital status and ethnic or religious affiliation.

 

Encircled by nine hill ranges, Manipur is marked out by a picturesque valley in the midst. The total area of Manipur is 22,327 sq. Km. The hills around the cup-shaped valley add the natural beauty of Manipur. The first Prime Minister of India, the Late Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, described Manipur as a “Jewel of India”, bewitching beholders with its natural beauty and its cultural paraphernalia. It is bounded by Nagaland in the north, Mizoram in the south, upper Myanmar in the east and Cachar district of Assam in the west.

 

Among the Manipuris, the Meiteis form the predominant ethnic group and traditionally inhibit the valley. The surrounding hill ranges are settled by many tribes. Meiteis are deeply sensitive and their unique pattern of life with inherent love art is reflected in their festival, dance and music. Their rich culture and tradition are also reflected in their costume, handloom textiles and in finer workmanship of handicrafts.