Handicraft situation in the olden days

In the olden days Handicrafts had been the part and parcel of life among the indigenous tribes of the North East India. They had never been economic activities in nature but rather been indispensable activities to carry on life independently. Each and every article required by a household for furthering other activities of life was manufactured by the family itself. It has been considered a disgrace on the part of a household or an adult man or woman unable to manufacture articles required by his/her family to carry on life. Needless to elaborate here hence that every adult man or woman was well equipped with the knowledge of handicraft.

Handicrafts of the Indigenous people were more or less confined mainly to two areas viz. Cane and Bamboo for men and Loin loom for women. Of course, there were other areas where handicrafts, specially ornamentry in nature were also practiced.

These aspects of handicrafts were in practice when people’s economy was confined to jhum culture. Cane & Bamboo handicrafst among others include rice baskets, hollow baskets, Rice Winnowing plates, Drying Plates, House Wall of various pattern, Carpet or Mat, Head belt for baskets, Warriors armour, seasoned rope, Poultry cages, Rice and Curry ladle etc. some made of Cane and some made of bamboo were practised by men. Women were concerned with making of every day bed cloth, Clothes for every day casual wear as well as decorative clothes meant for use during solemn occasions both for men and women. These clothes with countless patterns, associated with various occasions, stages of life and purpose and distinctly different for men and women were made by women.

One may wonder how every adult man or woman could acquire the know-how of these handicrafts. Well, every man or woman, once he or she has attained adulthood, is sent to their respective social and cultural institutions known as the Khangchiu and Kailiu otherwise known as Boys’ or Girls’ Dormitories respectively for men and women where they are taught the art of living including handicrafts, fine art, social etiquette etc.

Present day local handicraft

In the present day context, handicraft is no longer every body’s business as in the olden days. It has become more of economic activity rather than need based activity and is taken up by few very entrepreneurial individuals. And it is no longer the coarse manufacturing of articles for every day use but has become a refined and standardized making of articles for luxurious as well as decorative use. Following are few among numerous handicraft articles which have become very popular among people especially among the well to do people. The existing price range for each item of article is indicated against each of the items depending upon their quality and size:

  1. Cane Sofa set  (Price: Rs. 30,000/- to Rs. 50,000/-)
  2. Cane mat or Carpet (Price: Rs. 5,000/-  to Rs. 40,000/- )
  3. Cane hat (Price: Rs. 1,500/– to Rs. 5,000/-)
  4. Cane Suitcase (Price: Rs. 5,000/- to Rs. 10,000/-)
  5. Cane Chair (Price: Rs. 2,000/- to Rs. 3,000/-)
  6. Cane long basket (Price: Rs. 1,500/- to Rs. 2,000/-)
  7. Cane loose basket (Price: Rs. 700/- to Rs. 1,000/-)
  8. Cane Ladies Hand bag (Price: Rs. 700/-  to Rs. 1,000/-)
  9. Cane marketing basket (Price: Rs. 1000/- to Rs. 1,500/-)
  10. Cane hat belt (Price: Rs. 300/- to Rs. 400/-)
  11. Cane winnowing plate (Price: Rs. 500 – Rs. 700/-)
  12. Large drying plate (Price: Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1,500/-)
  13. Cane flower pot (Price: Rs. 1,000 – Rs. 1,500/-)
  14. Bamboo cup (Price: Rs. 10/- to Rs. 30/-)
  15. Bamboo fluit (Price: Rs. 30 to Rs. 50/-)
  16. Bamboo wine filter(Price: Rs. 100/-)
  17. Bamboo back basket (Price: Rs. 100/-)

All the above articles are also manufactured by bamboo and at the cheaper rate.

Following few of the numerous clothes which are products of women handicraft, differently and appropriately prescribed for different Sex, Age, Occasion etc. along with their existing price range depending upon their quality etc. have been listed.

  1. Gents’ half Jacket(Price: Rs. 2,000 – to Rs. 3,000/-)
  2. Ladies’ Lungies of numerous pattern (Price: Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 10,000/-)
  3. Gents’ shawl of countless pattern (Price: Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 5,000/-)
  4. Necklaces made of beads and sea cells (Price: Rs. 200 to Rs. 5,000/-)
  5. Neck – Tie (Price: Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,000/-)
  6. Ladies’ Dancing breast cover (Price: Rs. 1,500/-)

Apart from the above articles, following wood based handicraft articles are also very popular.

  1. Gents’ Hat (Price: Rs. 500 – Rs. 1,500/-)
  2. Legged Plate (Price: Rs. 500 – Rs. 2,000/-)
  3. Legless Plate (Price: Rs. 200 – Rs. 500/-)
  4. Curry Bowl (Price: Rs. 200 – Rs. 500/-)
  5. Rice bear cup (Price: Rs. 300 – Rs. 500/-)
  6. Flower Pot (Price: Rs. 200 – Rs. 500/-)
  7. Candle/Lamp Stand (Price: Rs. 200 – Rs. 500/-)
  8. Walking stick (Price: Rs. 200 – Rs. 500/-)
  9. Loin weaving article Set(Price: Rs. 1,000 – Rs. 2,000/-)

The handicraft articles given above are just a few examples of the countless articles that can be manufactured. Most of these articles are home made and therefore, they can be done by all the jobless persons and at every home, day and night provided people are suitably motivated and properly trained to this aspect of art and earning. The so called handicraft in the present context is confined to cane, bamboo, wood, wool and cotton. The area of craft can even be expanded to other materials like plastic, iron, aluminum, stone, paper etc.

In the above given circumstance, those who matter in the formulation of Government policies as far as employment is concern can give a serious thought towards motivating the people especially the unemployed youths by way of organising craft fairs, opening of craft training centres and by providing material subsidy and soft loans. This initiative will surely go a long way in solving the ever increasing problem of unemployment and thereby enhancing the economic status of the general mass.