India - Manipur - Imphal - A group of vendors gather on the steps of the Ima Market during a political gathering.
The rise of the Imas’ coincides with the creation of the market in the sixteenth century AD. Mani-pur was still a feudal, military society, and local men were often on corvée or at war against neighbouring Burma. Women were left alone and had to take care of everything else - households, children, fields and trade. Thanks to Imphal’s strategic position at the center of Manipur, what star-ted as a makeshift, open-air market for bartering food surplus slowly turned into the economic heart of the whole region, helping local women acquiring more and more clout. “The market became a sort of people’s Parliament, where goods and news from all over the state were brought and shared, and where political, social and cultural dynamics got together”, explains Ch. Priyoranjan Singh, Professor at the Department of Economics at Manipur University.