Subika Painting

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Manipur boasts a rich cultural heritage but some of its invaluable art forms like Subika Paintings are on the brink of extinction due to neglect.

About Subika Paintings

  • It is a style of painting which is intricately linked to the Meitei community’s cultural history.
  • It is surviving through its six manuscripts — Subika, Subika Achouba, Subika Laishaba, Subika Choudit, Subika Cheithil and Thengrakhel Subika.
  • Although the royal chronicle, Cheitharol Kumbaba, doesn’t mention a specific founder, there is a possibility that this art form existed when the writing tradition was introduced in the state.
  • Experts estimate the use of Subika paintings since the 18th or 19th century.

Key points about Subika Laisaba

  • The painting of Subika Laisaba is a composition of cultural motifs made by pre-existing features and other influences stimulated from their cultural worldviews.
  • Among the six manuscripts, Subika Laishaba represents a direct and authentic continuation of the Meitei cultural tradition depicted through visual images.
  • The illustrations of Subika Laishaba have visual language from the elements such as lines, shapes, forms, colours, and patterns.
  • These visual images become Meitei’s cultural motif, a structure to create visual effects as well as express cultural significance, meaning and values.
  • The visual images found in this manuscript are painted on handmade paper.
  • It is also found that materials of manuscript are prepared indigenously either handmade paper or barks of tree.

Q1) Who are the Meitei Community?

The Meitei people, also known as the Manipuri people, are the predominant ethnic group of Manipur State.They speak the Meitei language (officially called Manipuri), one of the 22 official languages of India and the sole official language of Manipur State.

Source: Manipur’s age-old Subika paintings and an assistant professor’s struggle to save the art form