Senapati: In the last few years, several entrepreneurs in Manipur have exhibited potential and proficiency globally by using local and natural resources, thereby encouraging more youths to take the plunge.
26-year-old Robert Rovei, from Laii village, is a shining example. Living true to his roots, he promotes traditional bamboo weaving housewares.
A graduate in political science, Rovei is skilled at working with his hands and making various objects of daily use from bamboo strips. He learned the skills from his father, who is also a bamboo craftsman.
Even though he had formed his interest in handicraft work since he was young, but Rovei says, he decided to take his passion seriously in November 2019, after quitting his teaching profession. He now works under the supervision of his father at his village.
Rovei feels that anyone can spend their free time learning various techniques related to handicrafts and if he/she forms an interest in art, one can further pursue their career.
“Self-reliant while using your skills and talents can be of one method to fight the unemployment issue in the state,” states Rovei.
“To learn the craftwork is very challenging and demands my efforts and passion. And sometimes I still to forget the intricate designs and tend to make mistakes; however, like Albert Einstein’s famous quote- a person who never made a mistake never tried anything new, I continue to improve my skills through the mistakes I encountered,” adds the young Naga lad belonging to Poumai community.
His traditional bamboo weaving products are making a positive environmental impact and alternative solution to plastics as most of his customers are using the bamboo baskets for performing various household works such as fetching water from the pond, storing rice, collecting vegetables among others.
His products include rice storage basket or traditional granary, locally known as Bou which cost around Rs 7,000, and the backpack basket for fetching water and collecting firewood (Wu) is priced somewhere in between Rs 300- Rs 600.
According to Rovei, each rice spreader or Jai in local dialect costs Rs 10,000, since it requires both thin and thick bamboo strips to create the intricately beautiful pattern which involves a lot of effort from collecting the material from the jungle to stripping the bamboo.
People in hill districts continue to practice the traditional way of drying the rice either on the sunlight or above the fireplace.
On the other hand, with the emergence of technology, there has been less number of artisans excelling in the art, and people don’t want to spend time in making the indigenous plant-based baskets made from bamboo due to time and energy-consuming.
Expressing his concerns over the lesser interest among the youngsters towards the traditional craft, Rovei says that we must learn to make about these bamboo products to safeguard and preserve our indigenous art and craft.