Assam is known for its vibrant waterfalls, mesmerizing bamboo forests, and vast stretches of tea plantation. True essence of its culture and traditions are captured in Assamese festivals, native lifestyle and traditional handicrafts. Here’s my list of some of the most pivotal handicrafts in Assam that I’m sure you’d love to have as souvenirs. Here you go–
1. Terracotta Handicrafts in Assam
Handicrafts industry of Assam is popular for its terracotta works. Mix sand and clay together in right proportions, shape it, give details and then bake till a brownish red color appears. And you end up with a beautiful terracotta art piece.
Artists generally give shape to the mixture with their bare hands, and then use a variety of tools for careful detailing. Like most other regions of India, Assam also has communities solely dedicated to handicrafts industry. Kumara and Hiras are two such communities in terracotta and pottery crafts.
Art pieces of all shapes and sizes are easily available in local markets. However, demand for some works is so high that they’re sold across the entire country.
also read: Kannauj— The Perfume Capital of India
2. Traditional Assamese Paintings
Culture and traditions of the north-east have been a source of inspiration for many painters of different eras. And the naturally occurring things in Assam greatly influenced the traditional style of painting.
Themes of these paintings are usually religious and mythological. Antique pieces illustrate parts of Ramayan and Mahabharat. Folklore, tales, myths, and legends have been passed down through generations through these traditional paintings. I’d say they’re much more than just paintings, as they’ve become an integral part of the community over such a long period. Same goes for their monetary value of the handicrafts as well. Of course an antique piece would cost you a fortune, but you might still find new pieces painted in the same traditional styles.
3. Handloom in Assam
Handloom weaving and Assamese villages are inseparable. You’d find a lot of women in almost all villages there who practice this on a daily basis. Some women do it as a profession, some do it for an extra income, and some do it just because they enjoy it. While the reasons may be different for everyone, one this is for sure that handloom weaving has become a crucial part of their lives. It is said that Assamese women weave their tales in the threads of their handlooms. They pass down this craft to younger generation when the time comes, and make sure their culture doesn’t fade away with time.
When we talk about handloom weaving, it is just as important to mention the golden Muga Silk. It’s a variety of wild silk cultivated primarily in Assam, and popular for its naturally occurring yellow color with a hint of golden shade. Muga Silk is the pride of silk textile handicrafts in Assam. In fact, it’s also called the golden treasure of Assam.
also read: Best Travel Books to Know More about India
4. Bamboo Handicrafts in Assam
Bamboo grows in abundance in north-east India. Every household has them, and there are entire forests of bamboo trees. Northeastern lifestyle and economy is highly dependent on bamboo and cane, especially in rural, or suburban areas. From daily-use items to designer handicrafts, bamboo is everywhere. Some of the most common bamboo-made things you’d find there are baskets, pots, handbags, furniture, fences, farming tools, etc.
Items like sieves, baskets, etc. all made with bamboo are mainly used by farmers or tea-plantation workers. Since the tea cropping is the biggest industry of Assam, and livelihood of a major community of people, the demand for cheap but durable farming tools is always there. Bamboo and cane handicrafts in Assam has thus become a vital part of the industry, and life of Assamese people.
5. Wood-crafts in Assam
A variety of trees grow in and around Assam. Forests and plantations have always covered the state. Just like in case of bamboo, Assamese villagers benefit from various kinds of wood and timber. Some of the palaces and monasteries in and around the region have over 6 centuries old wood-carvings. The artists make all kinds of common household items, tools, furniture, decorative pieces, footwear, jewelry, etc., most of which are completely hand-made and require years of practice and expertise. Carpenters usually carve a small item within hours, depending on the level of detailing asked of him.
Khanikar is a community of people who have devoted their lives to this craft for centuries, and passed it down from one generation to another. They select the finest wood available for a job, carefully carve it, and then use their years of practice and expertise to carve the intricate details. Finally, they paint the piece for better look, color and for its protection. Such people are so good at their jobs that its only a matter of minutes for them to carve their imagination into reality.
also read: List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Assam
also read: List of Popular Indian Handicrafts: Gujarat