Assam is a home to three major types of indigenous wild silks – muga, paat and eri and over the years, the intricate designs and weaving patterns have attracted domestic as well as foreign designers.
After a series of successful fashion shows displaying the silks of Assam, the handlooms of the state has not only found a place in the national but also the international markets are encouraging the local designers and weavers as the demand for sustainable fashion is gaining momentum.
On August 24th, 2019, two women from the European country of France reached Ouguri village in Kaliabor tehsil of Nagaon district, a small hamlet mostly inhabited mostly by the Bodos, to know more about eri silk, also known as Ahimsa silk. Fashion designer Caroline Taxyar was accompanied by her friend Lawrence Bras on her trip to Assam.
The women of the village, who are engaged in weaving, had extensive interaction with the French designer on their weaving techniques, traditional motifs and so on. Both the women closely observed the manufacturing process of eri and cotton weaves and expressed happiness to be a part of their activity.
The French team who was brought by Jesmina Jayling, a member of the Handloom Export Promotion Council, also examined if the indigenous weaves have the potential for international trade and employment generation.
Narendra Bora, a local businessman, who is actively involved in the trade of eri silk production expressed his willingness to the export handlooms produced by local weavers. He also demonstrated the potential of the traditional handloom. The French designers said that the magical weaves from Assam have immense potential to boost the Indian economy.
It may be mentioned that Sualkuchi, a census town in the Kamrup district, is the only region in Assam which has a large number of cottage industry engaged in handloom. It is referred to as the ‘Manchester of Assam’.
Photo: Dipu Bora