Inaphi (“phi” as in phee meaning cloth and “ina” meaning the upper body) is in short, a cloth to wrap around your upper body. This cloth has a delicate, sheer, semi-transparent finish and can be considered as a form of ornamentation in itself.
Traditional textiles are usually bright and vibrant, featuring vivid colors and bold motifs. But quite surprisingly, the designs, patterns and colors used by the Manipuri weavers on the Inaphi have a soft and serene appeal.
There were originally two main types of inaphi – the Moirang phi and the Wangkhei phi. The names of these cloths came from their weavers e.g. Wangkhei phi, considered exemplary in Manipur, are woven by the weavers of Wangkhei. Apart from the craftsmanship and skill of weaving, the two inaphis shared common traditional motifs and designs.
When you purchase an inaphi for the first time, it might surprise you to find it stitched midway. This is because the inaphis are generally woven in two separate pieces, later joined together to form one full inaphi.