I do not mean konna, as in corner in Hindi, and nor do I mean kauna, as in kitchen in Marathi.
I am talking about the kauna reed, which is native to Manipur. These reeds grow in the hilly marshes of Manipur. These unique reeds are known as Phak in Meithei (Manipuri tribal language).
Kauna is what Romita, and many other artists in Khangabok ( A village in Manipur) work with.
Romita is our master artisan.
She along with many other artisans like Kiran, Dhaneshwar, etc. are trying to make a sustainable living with dignity and respect.
A day in a life of Romita, starts at 3.30 am, and includes 12-13 hours spent on crafting with kauna, making beautiful pieces of art.
Our endeavor is to enhance the innovation of these artist and also give them a source of consistent incomes, so that, like them their children do not have to drop out of school.
The closest heath-care center from Khangabok is Imphal, which is 25 kilometers away from the village.
Drinking water is collected from the local pond and boiled before consumption, due to lack of the availability of potable water.
All houses luckily have toilets, but sanitation is poor.Therefore children and elders are at risk of illnesses.
And the electricity is very irregular.
But, when the electricity goes, it is time for some story telling.
One legend talks about the Goddess Panthoibi ( The Goddess of Prosperity), who cut one of her rivals tongues, which fell to the ground, and that is how kauna was made.
Kauna cultivation was initially done only during the crop rotation of paddy fields.
But these days kauna is a source of income, and is cultivated and harvested thrice a year.
Succulent and mature stems are first harvested and then dried, before weaving them.
Mats are weaved in a unique double weave. But, to weave baskets, molds have to be first made with wood.
Below are some snap shots, curtsy Kehaan Saraiya.
Thanks for reading…
For more about kauna products, artisans, and what we do.. Keep following Ziveli.