Handloom comprises of one of the oldest industries in the northeastern state of Assam. It is known far and wide for its rich textures and designs. So much importance is attached with the industry that it is customary for every young Assamese girl to acquire the skill to weave, in order to qualify for marriage. Passed down from generation to generation, silk weaving skill has become a way of life for the Assamese people. In fact, the state even boasts of having the largest number of weavers and handlooms in the whole of India. The raw materials used in the handloom industry of Assam mainly include cotton, Muga or the Golden silk, Paat or the Mulberry silk and Eri silk.
Every handloom product created in Assam is unique and has no resemblance with the other. This is because of the fact that the color and design sense varies from weaver to weaver. It is often said that the personality of the weaver is poured into his product. Images of birds, animals, and flowers are mostly embroidered on the traditional handloom products of Assam. However, today, the designers incorporate patterns and designs based on the demands of the market and in accordance with the taste of the newer generation. Handloom Research & Designing Centre at Guwahati supplies new designs and color patterns to the indigenous handloom societies in the state.
Most Popular Handloom Products of Assam
The King of Silks, Muga is golden yellow in appearance and is extracted from the semi- domesticated silkworm Antheraea assama, common to this region only. Different traditional attires, like mekhala-chaddars and saris, are made from the silk. The biggest Muga silk producing centre in Assam is Sualkuchi. The silk garments produced in this area have earned international acclaim and form a major export item for the entire state.
Paat Silk (Mulberry Silk)
A variant of the Muga silk, Paat is extracted from silkworms that are raised exclusively on the leaves of Mulberry plants (hence the name). The texture of the silk is very refined and is in great demand among the fashion conscious and the trend setters all across the globe. The shiny and bright silver color of the silk gives a new shade and meaning to the traditional attire of Assam.
The warm Eri silk is made by the silkworm Philosamia ricini, which harbors on the castor oil plant. Also known as the Endi silk or the non-violent silk, it is mainly used to make shawls and quilts. A unique feature of the products made from this silk is that they are slightly coarse in the beginning, but become soft and smooth after regular use. The silk comes in a variety of colors, like cream, gold, brown and beige. Its porous quality and thermal nature makes it ideal for use in both summers and winters.