Silk weaving of Assam

Feb 1 16:20 2010 Ankit Jain Print This Article

The state of Assam is one of the striking regions of India. There is hardly any other state which has greater variety and colour in its natural scenario and in the cultural treasures of the people that inhabit it.

The state of Assam is one of the striking regions of India. There is hardly any other state which has greater variety and colour in its natural scenario and in the cultural treasures of the people that inhabit it. Today weaving traditions in India revolves around sarees which is an ethnic dress worn by the women in most parts of the country. The combination and shine and glamour with the saree have led to the creation of an innumerable traditional saree,Guest Posting with each region lending its unique essence to Indian ethnicity. The culture of Assam is imperfect without silk and silk weaving. Assam is the home of different types of traditional saree. The state is famous for its silk handloom and the weaver’s are expertise in various types of silk like endi, muga, pala etc. The most prominent and prestigious being muga which is a golden silk found exclusively in this state. Muga silk is one of the nature’s gifts to Assam. The word Muga is derived from the Assamese word ‘muga’ which means yellowish. It is much more superior in every aspect from the normal white silk that is available all over the world. This muga silk is much more durable than the normal one. Muga clothes are so durable that it can be used for long years. This muga silk is used in decoration stuff also.  Muga silk is supposed to be the most costly fabrics in the world. This muga is produced from cocoons of ‘Antheraea Assamensis’ which is available only in Assam. Apart from muga there is eri and pat or endi which is the latter being used in manufacture of warm clothes for the winter. The silk which is commonly found in Assam is non-mulberry silk. Pat is a mulberry silk and is found in small quantities. Endi is yellowish in colour and is found in rough and smooth varieties  which derives from the castor leaves on which the worms feeds which is woven into shawls and clothing for the winter garments. There are two types of muga silk that depends on the leaves the worms feed upon. Muga silk has a golden shine and is in high demand all over India for embroidery purposes. This silk grows shinier with each wash. This silk was used together with zari to weave fabrics for the royal families. Nowadays the zari is replaced by the multicoloured cotton threads. The designs are woven into these fabrics are drawn from the flora of Assam and are the symbols of the different tribes and ethnic groups of the area. Silk is a rubbery substance produces by many insects principally in the form of a cocoon or covering within which the creature is enclosed and protected during the period of its major transformation. Usually there are three crops per year of cocoons which starts from July-August, September- October and November-December. Each particular crop acts as a seed cocoon for the next one till the third one has matured. There are two varieties of silk-pure silk and blended silk. Before the silk is obtained it starts with the laying of the egg by the mother moth followed by the emergence of the caterpillar or the larvae that weaves a cocoon and then the yarno is procured.  Silk worms are reared in different part f India. Nowadays traditional sarees is not just restricted to sarees because a wide range of ladies and men’s wear like dupattas, fabrics, garments, handkerchiefs, caps, scarves, dhotis, turbans, shawls, ghagras or lehengas, and even quilts, bedcover, table-cloths, cushions, curtains are made of silk. Sualkuchi is the main center in Assam for silk-weaving. The texture is delicate here with elegant designs and natural colours. The main dress of the women here is ‘Lungi’ which is popularly known as ‘mekhla’. The mekhla is usually plain but sometimes it has motifs all over the body and sometimes it has elaborate designed ends. The other part is the chadder which goes over the shoulder and the riha which is tied to the waist area. The motifs are usually flowers, leaves, birds, animals, and geometrical designs. One of the special things in this region is the bamboo weft designs, which is eight in number and are used as variations in the weaving patterns.

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Ankit Jain
Ankit Jain

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