Rongmei woman earns livelihood by making traditional ornaments

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By Shyam Waikhom

IMPHAL, December 17: Jeanpui Kamson is a talented artisan from Noney Bazar who is earning her livelihood making traditional Rongmei ornaments and handloom products. The 30-year single mother of a boy learnt the nuances of manufacturing the items on her own and later mastered the use of intricate patterns and designs used in traditional and ritual items from the informal talks with community elders.

Jeanpui graciously agreed to spare some time from her uninterrupted selling of wares at the 10th Orange Festival held at Longmai Public Ground, Noney to talk to IFP. Her stall was packed with colourful tribal necklaces, earrings, badges and men waistcoats set in traditional designs and marked patterns customary to the Rongmei community.

She said her earnings from selling just the hand-made traditional ornaments for Rongmei women come to the tune of Rs 20-30 thousands, which do not include the proceeds from sale of products with marginal profits. She also runs a fashion house at None Bazar in addition to her main business.

The Pheingao Tu ( white attire necklaces) is worth Rs 1100 to 1200 each and is one of the costliest and most sought items in her line of production. Most of her products are items used in customary and traditional functions of Rongmei community, specially the womenfolk. Due to the high cost, not many can afford to buy the necklaces during the annual festival, she said.

A few years back, she prepared a matching necklace and earring and wore it during a festival. Many people including her friends were swept away by the attractive design and insisted that she prepared the same ornaments for them too. This was the beginning of her business venture. The year 2012 was very eventful for her as she started taking orders from public and learnt to introduce the customary designs and patterns.

According to Jeanpui, the earrings, necklaces, badge and other women ornaments she makes are very popular in Jiribam and Tamenglong, specially during the festive seasons. She expressed her wish to seek support from Manipur Handloom and Handicraft Co-operative Society under the Commerce and Industry Department to promote her indigenous products.

If she got support from the department or other government schemes, Jeanpui believes she can increase the volume of her work and recruit more trainees. Right now, she is giving employment to two or three ladies at her home on production of the traditional items during festivals when their demands soar. She is unhappy that she does not have the facilities to market her products to places all over the state.

Jeanpui dreams of starting a unit for large-scale production with government assistances. The raw materials are easily available at Imphal markets, she said implying that with more funding she can instantly increase her production capacity.

According to Jeanpui, if women are lazy and lack work culture then they cannot make the least contribution to the development of society. On a parting note, she added that an artisan is not born but nurtured through devotion and intelligence.

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