Article by Plabita Chakraborty, The North-Eastern Chronicle
Visuals by: Kunal Kaustav Duwarah
Assam and silk such as Muga have a very close connection since ancient times. The process of weaving along with the production of silk is such a great process and this pride of Assam is treasured and known all over India as well as abroad. Actually, it’s very interesting to note that Kautilya’s Arthashastra which is political literature makes reference to the silk clothing of Assam.
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There are many records that silk came to India through Assam and Assam is the hub of sericulture. We can take the example of an umbrella wrapped by a dukula cloth, sacks of patta-sutra cloth as well as ksoma fabrics (sharada chandrama shaucha ksamani). These fabrics are usually silk or linen. It is also mentioned in the text that the loin fibres were so even and polished that they resembled Bhoj-Patra, which could indicate silk as well. There are also references to Assam silk in the records written by Huen Sang where he has written the use and trade of silk in Kamrupa during the rule of king Bhaskar Varman.
Let’s know more about Muga Silk
Assam silk denotes the three major types of indigenous wild silks produced in Assam—golden Muga, white pat and warm Eri silk.
Muga silk: The most prestigious silk also known as Assam silk is a type of handicraft and is basically wild silk with a yellow-golden tint with great durability. It is considered a sign of royalty. Muga Mekhela Chador, the traditional dress of Assamese women remains one of the most coveted fashion items for locals.
Especially during the time of Ahoms, also known as the golden period in Assam i.e, from 1228-1828 the muga silk came into the spotlight. Geographical Indication status has been provided to muga silk for authentic production since 2007. It is also registered under Assam Science Technology and Environment Council.
Muga silk is obtained from semi-domesticated multivoltine silkworms that feed on the leaves of som and solau and through that silk is produced. The weaving process is quite a task and can take roughly ten days to complete. The Muga silk mekhala sador which is pride in Assamese culture usually takes up to two months to get ready and to do the final finishing.
The best and the interesting thing about muga kapur is that with every wash the shine and durability increase. It is known for its resilience. It has one of the unique fabrics where the golden luster increases with age. Any type of embroidery by a thread can be done on it. Most importantly, while it has got a naturally golden lustre and does not need any dyeing to be done, it is still quite compatible with most dyes.
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Also since people do not wear Mehelka-Sadar in urban areas, a regular 5-yard Muga silk saree is made to appeal to them. Large variety is available with Muga silk which is used in making hats, caps, scarf’s, wraps, stoles, quilts, bridal wear, upholstery, sarees as well as kurtas. It is very interesting to note that muga silk is loved and preferred all over the world due to its durability and royalty.
Relation between Assam and Muga Silk
The Muga silk culture of Assam is considered to be a very old culture and is deeply rooted in the tradition, customs as well as emotions of the local people. Assam alone contributes to 95% of silk production and not to forget Assam’s pride, i.e., Muga silk is gaining popularity throughout the world, especially in Japan, US, West Asia, etc. The prized possession of Assam is very close to everyone and is taken utmost care of and is also considered to be nature’s gift by the locals.
It is said that the Muga silkworm is as old a habitat as the dinosaur and the silk is supposed to be the strongest silk in the world, after the spider silk. The indigenous silk producer of the county needs the assistance and more required planning by the government for it to have more boost along with the growth and development. It is such a valuable product that cannot be hampered with fewer people attention.
As more and more cheap silk materials are coming out the focus from the very authentic production of. Muga silk should always be in limelight or else the status and dignity that is gained throughout all the years will be lost and which is not at all a positive side. So not thinking about the negative side muga silk should be loved and enhanced by people all over the world as the material produced by it has a very bright, durable and glowing effect all over.