The bamboo bait!

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Variety of bamboo items made in India

Bamboo brings to mind different things for different people. For a foodie, it is either curry with bamboo shoots or the bamboo boxes in which dim sums are steamed and served; a wildlife-lover will identify bamboo as Panda’s favourite munch while a textile-maker will attribute its fibre or grass pulp to the fabric material. We are all familiar with cane furniture and the Chinese have introduced it as a good luck charm but there is a whole big world of products made out of this tallest and quick-growing perennial grass!

India is one of the leading growers of bamboo and many of its states manufacture unique and interesting items from this lanky, slender but strong and sturdy weed. Indeed, the range and variety of bamboo products in the North East is mind-boggling.

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Bamboo craftswomen at work

Think bamboo, think Tripura!
Think of bamboo art and the name of an Indian state that first comes to mind is Tripura, which turns out anything from beds and baskets to almost everything under the sky. The bamboo and cane handicrafts in this state are among the best in India for its variety of creations and brilliant designs. Some items that the state exports are pencil holders, lampshades, tea cosy, trays, shopping bags, small-mirrored mirrors, window and door screens.

Tripura craftsmen use bamboo to make dulla (fish baskets), pathla (rain shields), and mudhas (low stool made of bamboo and split cane). Bamboo screens from split bamboo, another speciality, are so finely interlaced and deftly appliquéd with tinted bamboo chips that they bear a resemblance to ivory.

If you would like to buy Bamboo furniture in Tripura, please click here.

Bamboo mudhas – traditional bamboo handmade stools for sitting – often found in Indian houses

Manipur has an extensive array of bamboo items
Manipur has an extensive array from traditional to contemporary designs. You will find Miruk (small measuring basket), filtering baskets, and conical/container baskets only in this state. In remote Manipur, bamboo hollows are used for drinking water. Apart from the utilitarian items, craftsmen produce headdresses and embellishments out of bamboo and cane splits. The Manipuris also create khudngyai (wristlets) and khubomyai (anklets) with soft tender bamboo weed.

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Bamboo baskets

Mizoram – where women use bamboo in headgear
If you thought bamboo is only useful in baskets and household items, think again! During carnivals, Mizo womenfolk sport a headgear of bamboo band with parrot feathers wedged in it. As Mizo men and women are smokers, they are fond of their locally-made pipes made, of course, out of bamboo!

Assam – special items of bamboo made here

The bamboo art of Assam, too, deserves a mention with special items like shitalpati (cool mat), baskets, winnowing trays, and japi (sunshade) taking precedence. Jakai, khalai, dori, chepa, paran, jhuti, and hogra are some of the fishing mechanisms created by the artisans of this North Indian state.

Bamboo generates harmony with musical instruments too – flute, do-tara, gogona and different types of bamboo mats are made for export in different parts of Assam.

Click to read our travel story on Assam.

Arunachal Pradesh – variety is the spice
Angular and curvy bamboo products are manufactured in Arunachal Pradesh.  Different tribes specialise in varied products. While a few have mastered the art of making neat and delicate articles, some make combs carved out of a single piece of bamboo. Naga craftsmen are known to craft armchairs, sofas, tables, and cradles. Chungas (drinking cups), mugs, spoons of varying sizes, and hayforks called kedzu (used for shifting grass and hay) are also their specialities.

Bamboo mats – often seen in traditional Indian houses

Arunachal Pradesh – the land of the dawn-lit mountains – click to read!

West Bengal – the land of Mutra cane handicrafts
Mutra cane from Cooch Bihar is used to make cane products like mats, screens and wall panels, in West Bengal. Famous cane mats of West Bengal are designed carefully by craftsmen, displaying motifs of animals, leaf and humans in a very beautiful sequence.

South India – vibrant and visually-attractive bamboo goods                              Black and white checkered boxes which pop-up at art stores are made in Kerala – besides, they also create vibrant and visually-attractive mats. Thanjavur produces cane furniture, trays, bowls, baskets and beautiful kora mats are woven in Vaniyambadi in Tamil Nadu.

If you would like to buy Bamboo furniture in Tripura, please click here.

Image courtesy: gaatha.com, tripuraonline.in

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