This black stone pottery is winning hearts for its elegant design, eco-friendly make and smart functionality

From her hometown in the verdant hills of Longpi in Manipur, Presley Ngasainao has come all the way to the city with some beautiful black stone pottery..

Stone wonder

  • Fashioned by the Tangkhul Naga tribe of Longpi (Loree) village in Manipur, the stone pot is ideal to slow cook meat and lentils, and also to store food.
  • These are 100 % biodegradable and microwave-safe; they can be used on the gas stove as well as firewood .
  • No machines or electricity are used in the making process.
  • In recent years, Longpi pottery has gained popularity in countries like Australia, Sweden, Germany and the United States.

The unique collection are there for all to see in her stall at the ongoing Aadi Mahotsav, Tribes India National Tribal Festival at Sanpra Hotels and Resorts (near YMCA).

Info you can use

  • Venue: Aadi Mahotsav, Tribes India National Tribal Festival at Sanpra Hotels and Resorts (near YMCA)
  • Other stalls: Cotton, wool and silk fabrics, wood crafts, metal crafts, terracotta, bead work, masques from across India
  • Date: Till September 23
  • Time: 10 a.m. to 9.00 p.m.

Flashing a warm, bright smile, Presley is happy to explain to anyone who asks her about why Longpi Pottery is one of a kind. “These black stone pottery is actually made from weather rock and serpentinite, found abundantly in the banks of the river in Longpi,” she begins. Unlike most other kinds of pottery, Longpi Hampai is not shaped on the potter’s wheel. “The entire process is quite laborious, the reason why the younger generation has stayed away from taking the legacy of this ancient art form forward. In our village, it is mostly the aged women who make these,” she says.

The Longpi way

  • The special rocks are crushed and mixed with water to form clay. The dull brown mixture is then kneaded and flattened on a wooden board for the initial slab work. All the shaping is done with the hand and special moulds. Once the clay has dried, it is placed in the fire for baking for nearly seven hours where it cooks at 900 degree centigrade. The pottery is taken out and rubbed with a local leaf known as ‘machee’ (Pasania pachyphylla) that gives it its texture and finish.

Presley’s enterprise provides employment to 11 women from her village who fashion the black stone bowls, platters, kettle sets, coffee mugs and other kitchenware. The making and selling of these stone cookware offers a sustainable source of livelihood to them as otherwise they have to be dependent wholly on farming. Fetching the special stone involves a walk of about 20 kilometres. The stone is transported in cane baskets which the ladies balance on their heads. Presley says she has worked hard to design and contemporise the stone ware to suit the needs of modern households.

I try out one of the round, shallow cookware that Presley says is ideal to make vegetable curries. The design of these stone vessels makes them good looking and functional at the same time. The pot takes a while to heat up, but at the same time retains the heat for a longer time thanregular cookware. Its minimalistic style makes it elegant. I love how the handles and ears of coffee mugs, tea pots and soup pots come wrapped in fine cane.

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