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Arts and Crafts

In the arts Meghalaya, Meghalaya has an infinite range of dance forms that tribal groups perform during festivals and fairs and celebrating the different seasons. Some of these dances are performed by men alone while in others they are accompanied by women. Some of the more famous dances are - Lah- ho – a popular dance of the highlanders in the eastern Jaintia hills which is put on by boys clasping hands on each other's shoulders moving in a gentle rhythm along with the music. Then there are the agricultural dances like the Tu-hali and Rwai shoh kba that depict the different phases of sowing, reaping and cultivation. The martial dances are generally accompanied with glistening swords and depict combats.

In crafts the tribes are skilled in metal work and bamboo workmanship. While many ornaments are fashioned from gold, silver and brass and other available metals. Semi precious stones like cornelian and crystal are used along with silver, gold and brass being worked into bright necklaces and wristlets. Folk ornaments are essentials to all tribes of Meghalaya and while the women don necklaces, ear rings and bracelets, the men prefer sword belts, arm bands, wristlets, silver chains and silver quivers.

Musical instruments are numerous and include elegantly crafted drums, cymbals, flute, gongs, trumpets and Nagara – which is made out of an earthen pot wrapped around with cowhide. Another unusual but extensively used instrument is the Jew's harp made of a thin 4 -5 inch long and half an inch wide slit of bamboo. It is played by clamping the string between the teeth and giving gentle tugs with the hands. You can pick up some of these souvenirs from shops in Shillong and other private handicraft and souvenir shops in the state.

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