In furthering their collaboration in promoting the rare Khneng Embroidery from Mustoh, East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, NESFAS and the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) Society organized a medical eye checkup for twelve artisans from Mustoh who work with Khneng at the Bansara Eye clinic on the 25th of September 2015.
The initiative is a follow-up of the practical workshops organized by NESFAS along with SPVS with women from Mustoh with knowledge of traditional Khneng embroidery aimed at reviving the dying art. Under the guidance of NESFAS staff, the three artisans with knowledge of Khneng have been training 9 local women from the beginning of 2015 on the embroidery technique so as to help ensure a future for this art while at the same time attempting to impart livelihood skills to the participants.
The Khneng embroidery is unique to Mustoh and consists of stitching of intricate designs onto Eri silk brought in from other regions with thread supposedly made from a type of grass. The embroidery was used to embellish the local traditional attire. Unfortunately, the knowledge on how the thread was made is lost to the people of Mustoh and recently only three women who had knowledge of this particular technique of embroidery. Khneng, being an artwork that demands hours of intricate needle work, takes a toll on the eyesight of the artisans and so the medical eye checkup was organized to support them.
Bansara Eye Clinic, Shillong supported the initiative by providing concessions for the checkup of the women. They waived the fees for consultation, investigation and medicines and applied the Megha Health Insurance Schemes (MHIS). For those who needed spectacles, a 10% discount was also offered.
Expressing her gratitude, one of the Khneng Embroidery trainees, Kong Belincy Kongri said, “I am very grateful for the efforts to help us because we would not have been able to do this on our own as our village is very remote and we have no access to good eye specialists in our area. Also, we would not have been able to afford the check up by ourselves.”
The participants at the camp included trainers Asibon Mawa, Victory Synrem and Bliwtibon Mawa and trainees Rumiti Synrem, Belincy Kongri, Sartimai Shongwan, Evangelist Laitmon, Banisha Synrem, Belinda Laitmon, Dakerlang Laitmon, Phaitimul Rimai, and Irilinda Kongri. Eight of the twelve artisans were prescribed to glasses.