Updated 24 Jul 2022, 5:38 pm
Manipur is seeing a surge of entrepreneurs with a number of budding talents increasing in the past few years. One among such is the young Tangkhul lass hailing from the highlands of Ukhrul, Pamchuiwon Kashak. Founder and owner of ‘Tangkhul Beads’, Pamchuiwon is on a mission to breathe back life into an age-old dying art form and traditions of Tangkhul community at large.
Originally, the art of making traditional Tangkhul necklaces was an inherent trade, passed down from one generation to the next within the Tangkhul society. It was taught by elders of the family to daughters of the family and so on. But, advent of Christianity and influx of outside influences has pushed the fate of this significant traditional practice on the verge of extinction.
Amid the changing winds, Pamchuiwon Kashak, a self-taught skilled worker stands tall pushing the envelope of tradition; reviving traditional design with a mix of modern flare.
A scholar of Manipur University, Pamchuiwon presently based in Imphal is striving to preserve traditional essence and values with her business venture ‘Tangkhul Beads’.
Pamchuiwon stated that her venture started in 2016, first as a hobby and eventually grew into a business model with the support and assistance of her husband, Yaruihor Hungyo. She maintained that she started out alone with no employees and helpers to help her out.
"My first public display of the handmade products was in the Shirui Lily festival 2019", she noted . As told by her, the advent of Christianity in Manipur had a massive impact on the practice of traditional jewelry making within the Tangkhul community.
She went on to say that gradual shift to modern lifestyle or way of living killed the preservation of such cultural heritage. She asserted that the ancient practice is on the brink of extinction as very few people are following the traditional practice today. As such, she maintained that she started the venture fueled by an immense desire to preserve the traditional practice and culture of the Tangkhuls. She added that she decided to branch out and make the designs more modern to spark interest among youth while keeping the traditional colours intact.
Pamchuiwon recounted that she started making the beaded jewelry during her post-graduation days but it moulded into a business model with her then boyfriend and now husband, Yaruihor. She pointed out that her husband was a key factor and supporter in transforming her simple hobby into a zealful business venture.
Pamchuiwon also added that positive feedback and encouragement from the public during her first display in Shirui Festival, 2019 encouraged her to take the venture more seriously.
She added that the warm reception motivated her to sponsor and design the first traditionally inspired Tiara of the Beauty Pageant organised by Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong in 2019. She stated that the traditional design was the first of its kind and received massive positive feedback from the public.
Recounting her experience at this year's Shirui Festival, as told by her “The public this year were more enthusiastic about the craft and overall product line up”. She asserted that the public were more inquisitive about the traditional practice but lamented the fact that she had no permanent business front at the moment to quench the public’s thirst.
Pamchuiwon highlighted that she would like to set up a proper store where her wide range of products could be displayed. She would dreams of setting up a training centre to help out unemployed youths of the state, she added.
Meanwhile, commenting on the sprouting venture, H Sharingam a 72-year-old resident from Kachai Village, Ukhrul asserted that the Pamchuiwon’s venture was vital in keeping the age-old practice alive and kicking.
He maintained that the need for traditional jewelry has increased now more than ever. Sharingam reiterated that the cause of the vanishing traditional practice is two-fold, one is the advent of Christianity and western influences and the other, changing outlook of Tangkhul youths over traditional way of life and practices, viewing them as too conservative and orthodox.
But such is the case with other ethnic communities residing in Manipur, he added. Sharingam highlighted that discussions and discourse are not enough to save the dying practice, as such he stressed on the need for action-oriented programmes like dispensing training to youths to increase work force and setting up institutions and production centres.
First published:24 Jul 2022, 3:26 pm
Ukhrulshirui lily festivaltraditional Tangkhul necklacesamchuiwon KashakTangkhulTangkhul Beads