There is so much that the wonderful land of the North-East of India has to offer. I have spoken about foods and jewellery in my previous posts and this post is going to be dedicated to the fabulous silks. The history of the silk industry in Assam dates back to the 11th Century. Muga silk is consider as the most important fabric in Assamese tradition. There is a vast choice of silks from this region and some of my favourites are the Muga, Pat and Eri varieties! Did you know that all of these are woven from wild silk? Well, I didn’t until very recently and the ‘wild’ bit makes draping these fabrics even more exciting!
More about these silks:
Eri is a wild silk reared by tribal communities. Eri silk is made by Samia cynthia ricini which feed on leaves of Castor oil plant. This rare and highly sought after silk is known for its warmth, durability and beautiful drape and is also known to be the most eco-friendly among its other cousins. This lovely, warm white silk is also known to folks as the Ahimsa silk as the process to create this silk does not involve the killing of the silk worm. Infact, the moth just leaves the cocoon as soon it is ready to be spun. Fascinating, isn’t it?
Women of Khurkhul village in Manipur have kept and bred silkworms for centuries. Since use of home made silk is a social practice in the area, every home has a loom to weave silk and cotton fabrics. It’s not just a way to earn a living for the folks here but is a great hobby too. These silkworms kept in homes are fed fresh mulberry leaves until such time they begin to spin golden yellow cocoons of raw silk. Then, each individual cocoon is boiled, and the fibrous silk is unravelled and wound on to a stick.
Pat silk is also produced by silkworms (Bombyx textor) which feed on mulberry leaves. This fabric naturally comes in a bright white or a off-white finish. In fact, this variety is also known as Mulberry Silk. The designs and weaves on this silk are hugely inspired by nature and vary across the tribes. The prime use of this silk is for making the special wedding attire, called the ‘Mekhela Chador’.
Finally, a few words about the famous Muga silk. It is one of the rarest silks in the world and is produced only in Assam! In fact what sets this Silk apart from all other versions is that it is totally golden yellow in colour. The word `Muga’ refers to the yellow tainted colour in the Assamese language. This is made from the semi-cultivated silkworm named Antheraea Assamensis, which is available only in Assam. Now, for some stunning drapes created using silk from this area. You ready? Enjoy a visual treat, I certainly did while collating these…
So, which ones do you already have and is there any of the above silks that you would really, really want to add to your collection?
Enjoy the works of the mighty silkworm; You are Notjustashopper!
Cover Image: via