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Title: It’s more than a fabric : The symbolic use of Phanek by Meitei women in acts of protest
Authors: Ningombam, Liklaleima
Keywords: School of Social Work
Sohini Sengupta
Meitei women - Phanek and Taboo
Centre for Women-Centered Social Work
Issue Date: 2018
Abstract: The research aims look at Meitei women’s traditional attire, Phanek to understand the multiple layers of meaning and symbol it carries that make it very significant and symbolic to use by women in acts of protests. It is an effort to study the location of Phanek within the relation of gender, clothing, culture and patriarchy. The research was successfully carried out with in-depth interviews and was further supported by analyzing a documentary film on Phanek and a published book on Manipuri costumes. Phanek has dichotomous meanings of taboo and sacred, is gendered and an epitome of the Meitei culture. The research provides an insight of Phanek and its nuanced linkages with women’s body, sexuality and fertility. The complexity of this attire is what subjugates women and at the same time it makes women use Phanek as a weapon against gun and patriarchy as an act of resistance. However, women’s standpoints have louder voices against the subordination and the meanings attributed by women to their attire and their sense of empowerment is stronger.
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