Textiles as A Cultural Symbol: A Study through the Phanek of Meitei Community

The Textiles of the Meitei community carry cultural meanings due to the motif woven, their clothing patterns, and the colours in different contexts. The tradition of weaving has been maintained through the acquisition and sharing of knowledge taught by the elders among the Meitei women folk. The textiles produced by the women folk has been being used as either utility or conceptual purposes. Their textiles serve as cultural symbols that represent something for something else. The cultural meaning of textiles has an abstract nature of representation that manifests their perception and worldview through ritual (personal and communal) practices. There are textiles which are context-based revealing different functional values from either motif or clothing patterns or colour. There are other textiles which are used by a particular person too. This paper tries to highlight the sign and symbols attributed to the Phanek worn by the Meitei women in different contexts. The study will focus on the interpretation of cultural meaning through observing motif, colour, and clothing patterns. This paper is an analytical approach to study cultural symbols of the Meitei community through the ethnographic research method. The data has been collected from the valley region of Manipur where the Meitei people are concentrated densely employing interview and group discussion techniques.