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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also Meithei), a people in India, living in the state of Manipur. Population, more than 600,000 (1970, estimate). They speak Manipuri, a language of the Tibeto-Burman group. Approximately 60 percent of the Manipuri are Hindus, and the rest are Christians, adherents of ancient animistic beliefs, and Muslims. Among their occupations are farming (rice, sugarcane, fruits), silkworm breeding, breeding cattle for tillage, breeding thoroughbred horses and hogs, and industrial work (primarily in silk-weaving factories). Handicrafts are well developed and include weaving; making various articles by plaiting straw, grass, and bamboo; and pottery-making. The Manipuri have their own literature, which is based on the Bengali alphabet, and a rich oral folklore. Their dancing is well known.


Narody Iuzhnoi Azii. Moscow, 1963.



one of the main schools of classical Indian dance; also, the name of a dance. The school arose in Manipur (northeastern India) in the 13th and 14th centuries.

The manipuri is based on a theory of dance as set forth in the ancient treatises Laithak Lika Jagon and Govinda Sangit Lilavilasa. The manipuri is a light, graceful dance which, in comparison with other dances of the classical schools, has fewer symbolic gestures and movements (mudrd). It is akin to Indian folk dances. The manipuri is based on the dance styles known as lasya (feminine and poetic) and tandava (manly and energetic).

Manipuri dances of the early period became part of the religious ceremony in honor of the Hindu gods Shiva and Parvati. In the 15th century, themes from the life of Vishnu-Krishna and Radha began to dominate the dances. Vocal and instrumental accompaniment, as well as elements of drama, are typical of the dance. A high degree of elaboration and technical mastery made possible the creation of complex music and dance presentations based on the manipuri; such presentations include the Lai Haroba, Ras Lila, Maha Ras, Vasante, and Gopa Ras. Among the performers of the manipuri are Sinhadush Singh, Suryamukha, and Babu Singh. Music for the dance has been composed by Indian poets and musicians, including Jayadeva, Vidoyapati, and Chindi Das. R. Tagore highly esteemed the art of the manipuri.


Dayal, L. R. Manipuri Dances: Lasya, Lahari. Bombay-New York, 1951.
Gargi, Balwant. Teatr i tanets Indii. Moscow, 1963. (Translated from English.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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