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Assam Weaving

See Assam Shawls and Scarves.

In the far north-eastern corner of India is the state of Assam. It is known for wild silks, especially the large and remarkable muga. Fibres of muga silk are naturally gold coloured. When the silk is being reeled it looks just like metalic brass thread. The muga worm feeds on the Som tree; Machilus bombycina and the Sualu tree; Litsaea polyantha.

The silk is similar to tussar, but with a much higher sheen. The moth is rare. In 2007 Muga it was granted Geographical Indication (GI) status. The latin name for the moth Antheraea assamaalso confirms its place of origin.

Tussar (tussah) silk is also cultivated as is Eri. Eri silk is cotton-like. The silk is not reeled but rather spun. For this reason the hole made by the emerging insect does not reduce the quality of the fiber. The silk is naturally white. When woven into a scarf, shawl or blanket the material is not flat and crisp - rather it is warm and soft.

Sericulture, and the crafts of spinning and weaving all provide small-scale domestic work which can be accomplished with a minimum of capital outlay. These are traditional skills in Assam and the craftspeople are justifiably proud of what they make.