Manipur enjoys a distinct place amongst the Handloom Industry in India. Handloom weaving forms a part of socio-cultural tradition of the peoples of Manipur which has a rich cultural heritage. The craft is woven with culture and spiritual beliefs of the natures of Manipur since the time immemorial. Handloom industry in the State has a legacy of craftsmanship that spread throughout the length and breadth of the State. Handloom weaving is by far the largest and the most important cottage industry in the state.
In Manipur, handloom weaving is a household cottage industry with decentralized set-up and loom was an integral part of their household furniture. One of the special features of the industry is that women are the only weavers. Among the women folk, weaving is the traditional occupation of the region. It is a time honoured occupation, fine tuned to an art form with its intricate designs. The women community takes part in handloom industry and is the only source of income in their families for their life. Apart from agriculture, handloom weaving produces highest employment to the women folk of the state. The traditional skill of handloom weaving is not only a matter of status symbol for the women-folk in the State, but also is an indispensable aspect of their socio-economic life. The hill tribes weave usually on the back strap loin loom whereas, frame loom were used by the native of plains.
Fabrics and Shawls of Manipur are in great demand in the national and international market. Tribal shawls with exotic designs and motifs are the products of five hill districts of the State. Khwang Iyong (Loin loom) is the traditional form of weaving but since 11th century Pang Iyong (Throw shuttle loom) began to use in the State. The warps used for weaving textiles were mainly cotton and Kabrang (mulberry silk). They cultivated and spun yarn on hand Charkha known as Tareng and practiced dyeing yarns and fabric by using natural dyes that were extracted from leaves, roots or barks of different plants. As social changes incorporated with modern technology, the traditional dyes have been completely replaced by imported synthetic dyes and traditional hand woven textiles of Manipur are few to be found and they are rapidly changing in terms of designs, motifs, yarns and processes. This has a great impact of the global market on the handloom industry in Manipur.