Ukhrul, Jan 30:
God helps those who help themselves,” the saying goes. It clearly manifests the handwriting of the Heavenly Father once again for everyone to see and witness, through none other than Qr. Machihan Sasa (74 years old), a renowned Longpi (Nungbi) potter from Ukhrul district.
This year (2024), the government of India announced the names of 110 Padma Shri Awardees on the eve of the 75th Republic Day celebrations, of which Machihan Sada was the sole winner from the state.
While talking with this Juro at Bakshi ground, Dungrei Hungpung, Qr. Machihan Sasa said he was born on April 10, 1950 (now 74 years old), in a locality primarily driven by agriculture and traditional occupations. Since his childhood days, he has had a keen interest in making potteries, which was taught by his father, Qr. Kuishim, and his grandfather. By the time I turned 20 years old, my desire and endeavor became more intense, and from 1970, I have been actively involved in crafting unique black stone pottery using a combination of ground black serpentine stone and a special brown clay found exclusively in Longpi Village, Sasa explains.
Earlier, I never thought that one day my dedication and commitment would take me to this zenith point. I honestly thank God for everything, Sasa said with humbleness.
Machihan Sasa, who is a pioneer in the field of black stone pottery, an art form said to have been handed down from the Neolithic period (10,000 BC), has a unique feature.
This Longpi pottery is a rare pottery that uses brown clay serpentine stone and black rock as the main ingredients without a wheel but adhering to an indigenous natural handmade system. He has dedicated over 5 decades to preserve this ancient Tangkhul tradition pot.
The cooking in this pottery enhances the taste of the food compared to other pots and pans.
As of now, he has created, marketed, and exhibited various Longpi pottery products such as cooking pots, tea cups, and decorative items, infusing new designs.
Machihan further said that over the years, he has trained over 300 individuals, some of whom have even received awards. “I am happy for that. Besides, this profession not only helps in reviving the art form but also creates a sustainable income source for the villagers,” he adds.
It is pertinent to mention that knowing the full potential and genius of Machihan Sasa and his precious and unique ancient art of “Loree Hampai” (Longbi pot), Ukhrul MLA Qr. Ram Muivah had recommended Machihan Sasa’s name to be included for the nomination of Padma Shree Award from the state of Manipur in the interest of public service. (More importantly, it was my batchmate Amit Khare, Advisor to PM, who was truly instrumental)
Moreover, a representation was also submitted by Ukhrul for Sustainable Development (UFSD) for the nomination of Machihan Sasa Shilph Guru for Padma Shree Award.