Traditional Dye Plants of Manipur

Topics: Dye, Plant, Food coloring Pages: 19 (3450 words) Published: December 14, 2010


Sanjeev Rana
Knitwear Department, National Institute of Fashion Technology


Manipur is one of the richest states in plant biodiversity in the North Eastern states of India. Different ethnic groups, residing in Manipur before the introduction of the chemical dyes into the state, used the dyes extracted from the plants. Women in Manipur practice dyeing using varieties of plant leaves, flowers and tree barks. The natural dyes were obtained from plants and have been used by weavers for imparting different shades of color to different clothes, bamboo baskets, flowerpots, fishing nets, etc. There are more than 50 plants species in Manipur, which are used as dyes right from ancient times, before chemical dyes were introduced in the state. This review is an attempt to describe the dyes extracted from plants by the Meitei Community of Manipur. The traditional methods of extraction as well as the plant parts used in the extraction have also been mentioned briefly. These locally extracted dyes are still used for dyeing of handloom products of the state, which are famous all over the world for their indigenous designs and quality.


Manipur is one of the state of the eight sister states of northeast India. The state capital of Manipur is Imphal. The state lies at latitude of 23°83’N - 25°68’N and longitude of 93°03’E - 94°78’E. The total area covered by the state is 22327 sq. km and the total population of the state is 22,93,896 [4].

The state is bounded by Nagaland in the North, Mizoram in the South, Assam in the west, and by the borders of the country Myanmar in the east. The state has its own emblem, bird and animal. The State Emblem is Kangla Sha. The State Bird is Nongin and the State Animal is Sangai [4].


Fig. 1. Location map of Manipur

1. Dye Yielding Plants

The process of dyeing was started during the reign of King Taothing-Mang (264- 364 AD). The system of dyeing progressed during the reign of King Yanglao Keiphaba (969-984 AD), who introduced the beautiful textile Hij Mayek (later known as Hijam mayek) colourfully dyed, and worn by the women folk of Manipur.

Some plants, which were used by the people of Manipur for dyeing are:

Table 1

|S.No. |Scientific name |Local name |Description |Use | | | | |A middle-sized tree with brown bark. It is a rare plant | | |1. |Acacia catechu Wild |Kabokhajee |occurring wild along the border with Myanmar. A fast |Preparation of local | | |(Mimosaceae) [1]. | |reddish black dye is obtained from the heartwood of the |inks and dyeing cotton| | | | |plant by boiling in water. Small chips of the heartwood |fabrics. | | | | |are boiled in water for about one hour. Then the dye is | | | | | |concentrated by evaporation in iron vessels. | | | | | | |Used as adhesive for | |2. |Achyranthes aspera Linn. |Khujumpere |Whole plant is first dried, burnt to ashes and is mixed |various colors and | | |(Amaranthaceae) [2]. | |with water. This dye is |making the color | | | | | |brighter. | | | | |A middle-sized evergreen tree found wild in Tamenglong | | |3. |Amoora spectabilis...

References: 1. H Manoranjan Sharma et all (A Radhapyari Devi and B Manihar Sharma), Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, Vol. 4(1), January 2005, 42
2. G Akimpou et all (K Rongmei and P S Yadava), Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, Vol. 4(1), January 2005, 34
3. Lunalisa Potsangbam et all (Swapana Ningombam & Warjeet S Laitonjam), Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, Vol. 7(1), January 2008, 142
4. (accessed on 2nd December 2010)
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