A cluster is defined as a geographic concentration(a city/town/few adjacent villages and their adjoining areas)of units producing near similar products and facing common opportunities and threats.An artisan cluster is defined as geographically concentrated (mostly in villages/townships)household units producing handicraft/handloom products.In a typical cluster, such producers often belong to a traditional community, producing the long-established products for generations. Indeed, many artisan clusters are centuries old Artisan.
About Umroi Cluster:-
Umroi Cluster falls under Meghalaya State in Ri bhoi district.
The Umroi cluster is able to form 300 plus Artisans & 20 SHGs supporting the strong work force.The mobilisation gains momentum day by day. Umroi Cluster is famous for Cane, Bamboo and Textile (Embroidery and Handloom).
Cane and Bamboo:-
Cane and bamboo is available in plenty in the hilly state of Meghalaya.The fibre grows very fast and some variety can even grow by a meter per day. Many varieties are available here. Bamboo is used for making houses in plenty. Mats of bamboo are made from thin strips which makes the walls of te houses.The mats are fixed to wooden strips of bamboos.Different varieties of baskets are made in Meghalaya.The artistic baskets are known as meghum khoks locally. Khoks or thugis and other baskets are used to store different day to day items. The tribes of Meghalay have been manufacturing these bamboo items for ages and even use the baskets for storing valuable items and clothes.The khasi tribals are masters in weaving cane into mats, stools and even umbrellas. The umbrellas are known as Kurup in the local language.
Cane and bamboo are the two most commonly-used materials in daily life in Meghalaya.Products ranging from household implements to construction of dwelling houses to weaving accessories to musical instruments are made in bamboo.No mechanical devices are used in the craft, which is mainly a household industry.Besides basket-weaving, bamboo is used chiefly in the construction of houses and fencing.The craft traditionally provides part-time employment to cultivators in the lean season, although, increasingly, full-time artisans engaged in commercial activity can be found now.Bamboo products are in evidence everywhere in Meghalaya.There are innumerable types and shapes of the bamboo basket, varying with the use to which they are put.The men of the household usually weave the bamboo baskets.Each district has its own distinctive style.In general, conical baskets are used as carrying baskets and square or round bottomed ones are used for storage.An example is the Meghalaya bamboo basket from Silchar.This has a square base that is capped inwards so that the corners of the square act as a support and it has a wide mouth.It is used for storing betel nuts.The Bodo bamboo basket is made with the help of a mould, which is used to get the shape of the neck and the mouth.From the neck to the bottom, brown paper is made into a cone and put into the basket so that its tip touches the bottom.Sand is filled inside to retain the shape of the cone and the weaving follows the shape of the cone.Dolls and toys are also made with cane and bamboo.Apart from human and animal figures, toy shotguns and musical instruments are crafted.Umbrella handles made of bamboo are a speciality and have designs of leaves, creepers, plants, rings, and crosses etched on them.A special variety of bamboo known as the muli is used for the handles.
Meghalaya being rich in raw materials has a large variety of beautiful products.The hill and the plain people, each have their own styles & designs.Apart from making baskets, cane & bamboo are also turned into furniture items, comparatively more modern innovation.Materials made of Cane and Bamboo are one of the very oldest of men creations, done by joining grass with grass and interlacing leaves with the minimum tools.It was considered clean for religious purposes.One of the finest examples of craft skills in Meghalaya is its cane work.The raw material, profusely available in its lush forests, provides the industry with its strength and sustenance.
The whole stem of cane and bamboo is cut with a hacksaw and split longitudinally into various sizes by a billhook.The cane is heated on a slow fire, generally with a kerosene lamp for flexibility.The objects can be made in two different forms: coiling for baskets; and weaving for mats.In coiled basketry, foundation of the basket is built first by coiling a cane round a central core.It is built up spirally and gradually the width is increased until desired height is attained.The coils are joined together by sewing strips which can be attached in two ways: each stitch passed over the new portion of the foundation coil.Figure of eight is made i.e., the stitch passes behind up, over and under the preceding coil and right over the new coil.Thus coil material is sewn with the strips and a basket is made.The ornamentation of the baskets can be done with attaining lace, paper and shells.The craftsmen cut the bamboo into sizes of desired length with the help of cutting tools called Dao.Bamboo length cut as per thickness with the help of different kinds of knives.The material thus ready is used for making frame of an article or furniture where as pencil cane is used for designing and binding purpose.The thick cane is used for making frame of an article or furniture where as pencil cane is used for designing and binding purpose.The cane is bend in the desired shape for a furniture or article by process of heating with blow lamp.The ends are joined with adhesive and nail and the joints are binded with strips of pencil cane. The items produced in cane & bamboo are cleaned with sand-paper and polished with varnish.The production of cane and bamboo articles involves the cutting of whole stems with a hack saw and slicing them into splits of various sizes using a bill hook or dao.Slicing is done longitudinally along the length of the densely packed fibres and a fairly smooth operation, requiring only the requisite amount of moisture in the culm.A kerosene lamp is used to heat the cane before it can be bent into shape.
There are various stages that go in the production of cane products, beginning with the collection of raw material from the forests.To obtain a smooth surface, the upper layer of raw cane is scraped off.The long cane sticks are cut into smaller pieces that are followed by splitting the cane to obtain thin strips.Cane can be further split, making it as thin as required.The split cane is now bent using a blowlamp that may cause some burns on the surface; these are removed by rubbing with sandpaper.Following this, the cane can be woven based on the design of the articles being fashioned from it. After the finishing touches have been provided, the products may be dabbed with a coat of varnish before being dispatched to the market.
Textile (Embroidery and Handloom) :-
The beautiful embroidery of Meghalaya portrays the rich artistic caliber of the local craftsmen of the north eastern state of India. The local indigenous population of Meghalaya design unique patterns on their shawls, clothes and other decorative items made up of cloth which reflects their cultural heritage. The splendid embroidery of the Angami shawls of Meghalaya has an internationally acclaimed status. Most of the tourists who visit the north eastern state prefer to buy the beautiful shawls as relic of the rich artistic creativity of the native population of Meghalaya. Designed with colorful threads or wools, the Meghalaya Angami shawls reflect the old glory and grandeur of the state of Meghalaya.
The main flat stitches with their traditional names are:Taipchi: Running stitch worked on the right side of the fabric. It is occasionally done within parallel rows to fill petals and leaves in a motif, called ghaspatti. Sometimes taipchi is used to make the bel buti all over the fabric. This is the simplest chikan stitch and often serves as a basis for further embellishment. It resembles jamdani and is considered the cheapest and the quickest stitch.Pechni: Taipchi is sometime used as a base for working other variations and pechni is one of them. Here the taipchi is covered by entwining the thread over it in a regular manner to provide the effect of something like a lever spring and is always done on the right side on the cloth.Pashni: Taipchi is worked to outline a motif and then covered with minute vertical satin stitches over about two threads and is used for fine finish on the inside of badla.
Bakhia: It is the most common stitch and is often referred to as shadow work. It is of two types:
Khatao, khatava or katava is cutwork or appliqué - more a technique than a stitch.Gitti: A combination of buttonhole and long satin stitch usually used to make a wheel-like motif.Jangira: Chain stitch usually used as outlines in combination with a line of pechni or thick taipchi.The bolder or knottier stitches include the following:Murri: A very minute satin stitch in which a knot is formed over already outlined taipchi stitches.Phanda: It is a smaller shortened form of murri. The knots are spherical and very small, not pear shaped as in murri. This is a difficult stitch and requires very good craftsmanship.
Jaalis: The jaalis or trellises that are created in chikankari are a unique specialty of this craft. The holes are made by manipulation of the needle without cutting or drawing of thread. The threads of the fabric are teased apart to make neat regular holes or jaalis. In other centres where jaalis are done, the threads have to be drawn out. In chikankari, this is not the case. Names of jaali techniques suggest the place where they originated from Madrasi jaali or Bengali jaali or possibly the place of demand for that particular jaali. The basic manner in which jaalis are created is by pushing aside wrap and weft threads in a fashion that minute openings are made in the cloth. Shape of openings and the stitches used distinguish one jaali from another.
The fabric is worked upon with a long needle,threads,tikris and beads.Multi sized frames are used, usually about 1.5 feet high,to secure the cloth on which the design is sketched with a stencil. One hand secures the thread under the cloth to the needle while the other hand moves the needle on top of the cloth with ease.
The production process of a chikan garment, assuming it is a kurta, goes through several processes. In each process a different person is involved. The final responsibility is, however, that of the person ordering the manufacture, who is also usually the seller. Chikan work involves several stages. The fabric is cut by the tailor into the required garment shape, after which the basic pre-embroidery stitching is done so that the correct shape is available to the block-printer to plan the placement of the design. The design is printed on the semi-stitched garment with fugitive colors, and the embroidery of the garment is then begun. After completion, the article is checked carefully since most defects can be detected at first glance. However, the finer flaws surface only after washing. The washing is done in a bhatti, after which the garment is then starched and ironed. The whole cycle can take from one to six months. Originally, chikan embroidery was done with white thread on soft, white cotton fabric like muslin or cambric. It was sometimes done on net to produce a kind of lace. Today chikan work is not only done with colored threads but on all kinds of fabrics like silk, crepe, organdie chiffon, and tussar.
There is a discipline and method in the application of the stitches. The darn stitch is worked on rough cotton fabric to fill angular designs and to cover the surface of the fabric, while satin stitching is done exclusively on delicate fabrics like silk, muslin, or linen. In chikan some stitches are worked from the wrong side of the fabric, while others are worked from the right side. It is however unique in its discipline in as much as stitches designated for a particular purpose are used only for that purpose they are not replaced by other stiches. For example, the chain stitch (zanjeera) will only be used for the final outline of a leaf, petal, or stem.Different specialists work with different types of stitches. For example, open work or jaali is not done by embroiderers who do the filling work, each worker completes his/her bit and the fabric is then sent to the next embroiderer. The wages for each job are fixed separately.
How to reach:-
The nearest airport is at Umroi.The National Highway No.37 origination from Jorabad to Shillong passes through the District. Nongpoh is connected from Guwahati by road only. So on reaching Guwahati, one can reach Nongpoh by buses, Taxi, Vans. The approximate distance from Guwahati to Nongpoh is about 42 Kms which will take about one and half hours to reach Nongpoh.