When we talk about Assam, there are a few things which we can call as the pride of Assam. The tea of Assam, its wildlife resource & particularly the one horned rhino. Again, Assam silk has been setting benchmarks for entire craft industry of the country for decades. Silk production & weaving are an intrinsic part of Assamese culture. “Sualkuchi “ is the centered of Assam silk Industry. The skilled weavers of the place have created such a reputation in the industry that the region can be rightly called “The Silk Heaven of India”. There are three major kinds of silk produced in Sualkuchi.
Muga silk is made from ‘Antheraea Assamensis’ silkworm. The baby moths use to feed on som(Machilus Bombycina) & sualu(Litsaea Polyantha). For its glossy fine texture & durability the silk is well known all over the world. The magical fact is, its luster increases after every wash. The government of India identified Muga silk a protected Geographical Indication (GI) in the year 2007 & granted it with a GI mark in the year 2014. The Central Silk Board of India in collaboration with the Central Muga Eri Research & Training Institute located in Jorhat, Assam looks after the research & development inspection & other nitty gritty related to Muga Silk.
Eri Silk is produce by silkworm name Samia Cynthia Ricini. They are feed on the leaves of castor oil plant (Ricinus Communis). In this process, the pupae are allowed to grow into adults & then the cocoon is used for silk production. The silk is produce without killing the silkworm. So it is also known as ‘Non-violent Silk’. The silk is white in colour & is also referred to as the Peace fabric. It is also known as Endi or Errandi silk. It has excellent characteristics such as it is anti-fungal, non-toxic, bio-degradable textile.
It is also known as Mulberry Silk. It is produced by Bombyx textor silkworms which feed on mulberry (Morus spp.) leaves. Mulberry worms are very reared in Assam & usually acquired from other state. So compare to the other two varieties of silk, Pat silk is produced in limitated quantities. It is generally white or off white in colour. When Mahatma Gandhi visited Sualkuchi on January 9, 1946, he was gifted a portrait of his own, woven on a Pat silk cloth, by Rajen Deka a well-known designer of his time. Gandhiji was spellbound by the quality & design and he forecast that the weavers would dream in their cloth.
Silk & hand- weaving are Assam’s heritage & ever effort must be made to preserve this tradition. It is upon us now to save this treasure & also cherish it. In order to promote Mulberry, Eri & Muga silk production in Assam, Government through Centrally Silk Board is implementing a centrally sponsored scheme viz. “Catalytic Development Programmed” (CDP) in collaboration with State Sericulture Department of Assam. The component under CDP envisage development & expansion of hast plant, support for seed production, development of farm & post cocoon infrastructure, up-gradation of reeling & processing technologies in silk, enterprise development programmed support for extension & publicity.