Bamboo and cane crafts of Meghalaya secure an important place in the economy of the state, next only to agriculture. The bamboo and cane crafts are mostly ramified into two types, namely articles required for day to day use and of medium quality, more suited to local requirements; and articles of finer quality, both decorative and functional, to meet the requirements and preferences of more sophisticated markets. The bamboo and cane crafts of Meghalaya throve due to the indulgence of three ancient hill communities, the 'Khasis', the 'Garos' and the 'Jaintias' who have been giving form to bamboo and cane into distinct articles. The bamboo and cane crafts have occupied a firm position and have been remaining one of the interesting creative trends that are characteristically symbolic, religious and pictographic. The tribal people of Meghalaya are skilled in creating decent artworks as well as furnishing walls of houses including other necessary items. The tribal people of this state, like the Khasi tribes, are known for creating attractive cane baskets and sieves.
Bamboo and cane crafts of Meghalaya include bamboo mats which are made from thin strips. These mats are used to furnish walls. The mats are fixed to wooden strips of bamboos. An array of baskets that involve the artistic baskets like 'meghum khoks' are made in Meghalaya. These baskets are also named as 'thugis' which are used to store different day to day items. The 'khasi' tribals are masters in weaving cane into mats, stools and even umbrellas. The umbrellas are known as 'Kurup' in the local language. Hand weaving is much sought after vocation of the artisans in cane. The Khasis are famous for weaving cane mat, stools and baskets. A special kind cane mat called 'Tlieng' is famous for its durability. Baskets, sleeping mats, winnowing fans, rain shields are manufactured out of plaited bamboo and cane. These are mainly created in the rural areas of Meghalaya. Jaintia fishing traps made of bamboo sticks are also admired for functional beauty. The 'Khasi Trap' (used for catching small fish found in rain water) is widely used in the state. The Garo tribes are also rich in the various forms of bamboo culture. There are many kinds of constructions and craft made from bamboo like varieties of basket and mat making.
The bamboo and cane crafts of Meghalaya incorporate motley of baskets that comprise 'Khasi Pig Basket' that are used to transport pigs and is seen being used in the Khasi Hills, 'khoh' which is a coarse, closed-weave basket used by the Khasi tribe of Meghalaya for general-purpose marketing, Khasi Fruit Basket which is used for packing and transporting fruit and vegetables, Shallow Carrying Baskets which is locally called as 'Shang'. This is a shallow storage and shop-display basket used by the Jaintia tribe of Meghalaya and made from split bamboo. Other variations include Khasi Shallow Basket, which is woven from split bamboo and the weave structure is identical to the 'Jaintia Shang', Small Khasi Storage Baskets, etc. Some of the baskets are left open at the top, while others are provided are provided with lids. These types of baskets involve Coiled Cane Containers, Khasi Storage Baskets etc. Another speciality of the Garos is Pokerwork. While creating this the designs are made into the bamboo with a red-hot pointed rods or pokers. 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 and are of great demand in the locale.
The Khasi rain shield which is locally known as 'Knup' is an exclusive example of bamboo and cane crafts of Meghalaya. Other items that go together with the other well known bamboo and cane crafts of Meghalaya are Winnowing Fan, Mud Shovel, Shield made of bamboo splints, Khasi Bamboo Comb, Khasi Bamboo Pipes etc are other instances of the intricate craftwork of Meghalaya.
The state is constantly growing and developing its artistry in the fields of bamboo and cane crafts. The government is thinking to promote this type of tribal crafts as they are playing an important part in the economic cycle of the state. With the aim to educate the artisans about the proper use of the raw material, to improve the skills of the artisans, to learn modern intricate designs, enhance production level and promote marketing, more initiatives are expected soon.
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