Anji Paphal is a symbolic representation of the Manipur’s deity, the Pakhangba – N Sackmahca Singh
To showing the symbol of a mythical being used by the Andro potters of Manipur in their ritual pot. An exhibition of artistic installation ‘ANJI PAPHAL’ is being put up at Kumhar Para openair exhibition, IGRMS. The exhibition was inaugurated by Prof. Sarit Kumar Chaudhuri, Director IGRMS in the presence of Sri Dilip Singh, Joint Director IGRMS and Prof. K.K. Rasa, Tagore National Fellow. Museum employees and a good number of visitors had witnessed the inaugural event of the exhibition.
On this occasion, Shri N. Shakmacha Singh (Museum Associate, IGRMS) told that, Anji Paphal is a symbolic representation of the ruling deity, the Pakhangba of Manipur. The Meitei people who live in the valley of the State worship different assumptions of the deity in mythical forms as their protector whose benign presence is believed to guard from all the ill ailments. This mythical form characterizes the unique blend of reptilian and mammalian characters; the head being mammalian and the body and tail being a form of serpent. The Meitei people of Manipur believed that there are more than 365 different forms assumed by Pakhangba and they consider them as the baseline of their culture.
Illustrations of these 365 mythical figures are found in the ancient manuscript called Paphal Lambuba. The Paphal cult is deeply rooted to the psyche of the Meitei community, the reflections of which could be seen in their culture, be it artwork or architecture, pottery, martial arts, performing art traditions and many other aspects of their life. According to (Late) Pandit Khelchandra (2002), Anji is perhaps the most significant and foremost among the Paphals. It represents the beginning of the creation of living beings. It also represents the union of the two vital fluids of Atiya Guru Sidaba and his consort Leimarel Sidabi resulting in the procreation of lives.
The present exhibition is an imposing structure of Anji Paphal prepared in terracotta form by the terracotta artists from Manipur. The structure is first of its kind built in terracotta. This 12 feet high terracotta structure displayed in the Kumharpara Open Air Exhibition premises of IGRMS is now opened to the visitors. The figure is taken from the motif of a ritual Pot used by the Andro Potters who practice pottery in the valley since time immemorial. The village is about 46 kms from the capital city Imphal. The ritual pot locally known as Lai-Chaphu is owned by every family in the village. It is exclusively meant for commemoration of a ritual service. Visitors can also see the Lai Chaphu (ritual Pot) of Andro potters which carries this unique motif. This magnificent terracotta sculpture of Anji Paphal was prepared by sat day and terracotta artists from Manipur led by Shri M. Nobin, the master artists.