Cultural History

“Assamese women weave fairy tales into their clothing” – Mahatma Gandhi

Weaving in Assam can be traced back so far in time that no definite date can be given. It is an inherent part of the culture with the ability to weave being a prime skill in a large number of Bodo women and the loom being a key possession in most homes. Individual techniques and designs are passed down through families as well as through local folklore and fables.

Whilst the Weaving Destination cloths are designed to appeal to an international market many features on the fabric are symbolic with historical and cultural significance. Traditional motifs are derived from nature and are geometrical in design such as the border on the mustard fabric, where the more circular patterns reflect flowers being the ancient Juhi motif.

The women of the Weaving Destination produce both handwoven cotton and handwoven silk. The latter is Eri silk from the Eri silk worm (also referred to as Endi silk or Errandi silk). It is special amongst silks as harvesting of the cocoons (which are then spun) does not involve killing the pupae. This leads to its other names of “non-violent” or Peace silk. This type of silk originates from the region of Assam where its food source is plentiful and the climate ideal for its production. At present the silk is sold in its natural soft beige colour as we don’t have a vegetable dying centre currently to naturally-dye the silk fabric. However, the cottons come in a range of vibrant colours all produced using natural vegetable dyes.

Whilst capitalising on the cultural heritage, traditional designs and high quality of the Bodo women’s product, the patterns on the fabrics have been updated for a more modern and international market. In the summer of 2014 a successful fashion show took place at the renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival displaying garments made by aspiring designers and hobby sewists highlighting the versatility of the fabrics and their stunning colours.

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