Known for its beautiful weaves and patterns, the eight siblings of Northeast have a lot of unexplored, unique and exquisite handicrafts, which is still unknown to the world. Bamboo, raw silk, jute, cane and the likes, are used in creating beautiful pieces of art.
Next time you visit a Northeast trade fair or are lucky enough to visit Northeast itself, you must pick some of these souvenirs:
1. Mekhela Sador:
It is a two-piece Saree – where the Mekhela is the skirt and Sador is the drape and pallu. It is the traditional Assamese attire for women, weaved with varying blends of cotton, and silks such as Muga, Pat and Eri. Each Mekhela Sador has a unique pattern with different hues. The Assamese Mekhela Sador has been endorsed and worn by several Bollywood celebrities, and was even showcased at the Lakme Fashion Week 2016. The beauty of the fabric and the intricate weaving catches many eyes. While there are simpler cotton versions for everyday use, the heavy silk ones are worn occasionally and are passed on from generation to generation. Price: 10,000 INR onwards for Muga; 5,000 INR onwards for Pat; Rs. 1,000 for cotton.
While Sikkim has been luring tourists with mesmerising valleys and idyllic landscapes, Thangkas from Sikkim hold a great significance – both as a souvenir and as a symbol of spirituality. These vibrant scrolls, depicting the lives of several deities, are held sacred by Buddhists and are worshipped by certain sects. Created using rich threads and silks, a thangka adds its charm and beauty to any corner it is draped in. Price: 7,000 INR onwards.
3. Cane Furniture:
An age-old indigenous craft, each northeastern state is a hub of artefacts created from bamboo and cane. From heavy furniture (such as beds and sofas) to baskets, mats, hats and musical instruments, each article involves a great amount of hard work. Cane furniture is one of the most sought after souvenirs from Northeast, while lamps made from cane and bamboo have greatly become eclectic forms of decor. Price: 300 INR onwards for small items such as hats.
4. Kanh/Bell Metal Utensils:
Traditional bell metal (Kanh) utensils and cutlery of Assam are common in every household of urban and rural Assam. While the ‘Xorai’ and the ‘Bota’ are mainly used for serving beetle nuts and leaves to guests, and also as decorative pieces, bowls, plates, spoon, trays, etc. are used every day. Lustrous and well crafted, bell metal artefacts are a must have souvenir from Northeast. Price: 500 INR onwards.
5. Shawls and Fabrics:
Passed on from generations, the excellence in artistic craftsmanship is evident amongst the Monpas in Arunachal Pradesh. Mishmi shawls, Apatani jackets, Adi skirts and Wancho bags boast of their vibrancy, designs and fabrics. Created using a blend of different colours, geometric designs and rich fabrics, each article is unique. Moreover, Mizoram Puan fabrics are distinctive, bold and beautiful. Elegant and simple, this fabric is constituted of alternating lines of black and white. Along with crimson coloured stripes, shawls and skirts, this fabric is a favourite amongst tourists. Not to miss out are the Naga shawls, which are as good as a blankets to keep you warm and cosy during winters. Ideal for travelling, these shawls are quite comfortable and are worth bargaining for. Price: 2,000 INR onwards.
Be it green, white tea or your orthodox cup of tea, no other place does it like Northeast. Flecked with miles of lush tea plantations, every cup brewed with these tea leaves bears its own tantalising aroma. An ideal gift and souvenir, pouches of tea are always available on the go for tourists wandering down its plains. Perfect for winter mornings under the first rays of the sun, tea is the most essential northeastern souvenir for you to take back home. Price: 100 INR for 250 gm onwards; varies with quality and season.
7. Japi and Gamusa:
Patterned with red flowers and designs, Gamusa holds a great cultural significance for the Assamese. Draped around people’s necks as a mark of respect, the gamusa adorns Bihu dancers while lending its use to various cultural and religious events. Greatly taken up by designers; skirts, shirts and scarves have emerged bearing its distinctive patterns. The Japi or the sunshade is made from bamboo and has intricate, colourful patterns etched onto it. Mainly displayed at homes, the japi adds an authentic Assamese charm and comes in several shapes; from pocket size to ones as big as chandeliers. Traditionally Japies were used by farmers as sun hats. The japi has now been used to create varied kinds of jewellery for women. Price: 70 INR onwards for Gamusa and 30 INR onwards for Japi.
Created using bamboo, clay and various other natural resources, the craft of mask making is indigenous to Northeast. Beginning from Majuli to the Monpa tribe in Arunachal Pradesh, each state has its own style of creating impressive masks. An amalgamation of diverse yet interlinked cultures, each mask is one of a kind, depicting various deities, sacred creatures and figures of cultural significance. Increasingly promoting the use of natural dyes and paints, these masks are used in the means to revive traditional forms of art and theatre. Price: 500 INR onwards.
9. Pickles, Condiments and Bhoot Jolokia:
Piquant, fiery and delectables, pickles from Northeast must be tried. Lending their unique flavours to every dish, each condiment has a different zest. Be it pickled bamboo shoot and pork, mango and chilli, tomatoes or the legendary bhoot jolokia, each brings a gamut of flavours onto your palette. You will find pickled Jolpai (wild olives) and Bogori (Indian Jujube) are can only be found in Northeast. Price: 100 INR onwards.
10. Tribal Jewellery:
Colourful, bejewelled and sometimes even quirky, tribal jewellery is an absolute must-have souvenir from Northeast. Using different stones, threads and beads, tourists flock to local jewellery stores in large numbers. With a paraphernalia of accessories; each available at compelling prices, vibrant hues and multifarious designs, picking up these souvenirs is a must on your shopping list. Price: 100 INR onwards.