Mizoram is the home of the Mizos, which literally means dwellers of the hill top. The Lushai tribe is the single largest group, with the Pwoi and the Lakher being smaller tribes. The Mizos are all Christians. While women excel at weaving, men are experts at cane and bamboo work.
Bamboo is found in abundance on the hills and the people of the region put it to several uses. Baskets are, of course, one of the most popular forms of craftsmanship with this material. Among the other products crafted from bamboo are houses, furniture, kitchen implements, agricultural tools, weaving tools, and even jewellery. Furniture items include chairs, tables, sofas, moorahs, and bamboo screens. Umbrella-handles, knitting needles, hats, mugs, fish baskets, rain shields, pipes, toys and games, hand-held pipes, and the back-strap loin-loom are all made from bamboo and cane. Mizo houses are generally built with bamboo walls and floors and thatched roofs. Houses that are over 100 years old can still be seen standing in Mizoram.
Basket making is done mostly by the men and the products are uncommonly beautiful. Each home weaves its own baskets and it is only recently that basketry has become a commercial activity among the people of the region. The variety of styles and uses that the bamboo basket is put to is quite amazing. The conical bamboo basket called paikwang is a typical Mizo basket, broad at the rim and tapering at the bottom, and is used to carry firewood, cotton, vegetables, and other items. The paiem is a closed-weave basket and is used for carrying grain. It is woven with four long bamboo splints at the corners. The lower half of the basket is square and as it opens out at the top it becomes circular in shape. Baskets made of cane and bamboo, together with leaves and grasses, are also made.
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