IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


3rd February, 2024 Art & Culture


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The Subika Paintings of Manipur hold profound cultural significance, yet they face the threat of extinction due to neglect.


  • Subika Paintings, intricately linked to the Meitei community's cultural history, are portrayed in six surviving manuscripts: Subika, Subika Achouba, Subika Laishaba, Subika Choudit, Subika Cheithil, and Thengrakhel Subika.
  • Experts estimate the existence of Subika paintings since the 18th or 19th century.

Key points about Subika Laishaba, a significant manuscript in this tradition

  • Cultural Motifs and Composition:
    • Subika Laishaba's paintings compose cultural motifs influenced by pre-existing features and cultural worldviews.
    • Visual language includes elements such as lines, shapes, forms, colors, and patterns, creating a unique composition.
  • Authentic Continuation of Tradition:
    • Subika Laishaba is considered a direct and authentic continuation of the Meitei cultural tradition, portraying visual images with cultural significance, meaning, and values.
  • Illustrations and Manuscript Materials:
    • The visual images in Subika Laishaba are painted on handmade paper, showcasing the indigenous preparation of materials.
    • The manuscript's materials include handmade paper or tree barks, demonstrating the rich heritage of manuscript painting.
  • Visual Language and Cultural Motifs:
    • Visual language in Subika Laishaba utilizes lines, shapes, forms, and colors to express cultural motifs.
    • Cultural values are embedded in the visual language, representing the Meitei community's identity.
  • Frame and Floral Motifs:
    • Illustrations are enclosed within a frame, consisting of two parallel Indian-red color lines.
    • Floral motifs are present at intersections, outlined with Indian-red color, filled with yellow-ochre, and featuring a black color dot.


Despite their cultural richness, Subika Paintings, including Subika Laishaba, face the risk of extinction due to diminishing awareness and neglect. These paintings are not only artistic expressions but also repositories of cultural knowledge, reflecting cosmology, history, and moral values. Preserving and promoting awareness of Subika Paintings is essential for safeguarding this unique art form and the cultural heritage of the Meitei community in Manipur.




Q. Which of the following statements is correct regarding Subika Paintings of Manipur?

A. Subika Paintings originated in the 15th century during the reign of King Garibniwaz.

B. The Subika Laishaba manuscript is the only surviving document showcasing this art form.

C. Floral motifs in Subika Laishaba are outlined in black, filled with Indian-red color and a yellow-ochre dot at the center.

D. Subika Paintings are primarily created on paper imported from China.

Answer: C.