Title : Exploring Folk Cultures of Assam

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Assam Arts & Crafts

It is a known fact that the tradition of a place finds expression in the local arts and crafts. One look at the various handicrafts and handloom products made in the north eastern state of Assam and you find the truth in this statement. History tells us that the artists and artisans of Assam were known far and wide.Assam is a confluence of a number of tribes and cultures and this is reflected in the traditional handicrafts of the place as well. However, in the recent times, due to the effects of globalization, changes have been seen in the patterns and designs of the Assamese arts and crafts also. There have been variations in the weaving skills, but despite this, the technology of production has not changed much. In order to improve the standards of the handicraft industry of Assam, the government has established the Assam Art and Craft society (1971) in Guwahati. Through it, regular research and conferences are conducted, to further the efforts of the craftsmen.


Bamboo and cane contribute a lot to the economy and lifestyle of the north-eastern state of Assam. This is mainly because of the fact that the hills and forests of the region have vast expanses of bamboos and canes and the natives, being excellent craftsmen that they are, have learnt to use them for a wide range of purpose in their everyday life.
Bamboo is a raw material of great versatility and forms an integral part of the lifestyle and economy of Assam. Special mention may however be made of the forests of Mizo Hills, Cachar, Mikir and North Cachar Hills, Nowgong and Lakhimpur districts. While touring in the hill districts, one sometimes wonders at the vast expanses of bamboos and canes. The important species of bamboos of economic value are the Muli (Melocanna bambusoides), Dalu (Teinostachyum dalloa), Khang (Dendrocalmus longispatnus), Kaligoda (Oxytenanthera nigrociliata) and Pecha (Dendrocalamus Hamilton-ii). The Muli and the Dalu have great commercial importance, the former for pulping, constructional and fencing purposes, and the latter for the mat and basket industry.

An idea about the flourishing state of cane and bamboo products of Assam was fond even during the time of Bhaskara Varman (early part of the 7th century A.D.), the king of Assam, may be had from the following extract. (An extract from “The History of Civilization of the People of Assam” by Dr P.C. Chouudhury.)

‘’Early literature refers to the well-decorated and coloured sital patis (cool mats) used by the rich of bamboo and its use for various purposes are well known. Bana again testifies to this highly developed craft. He states that Bhaskara sent to Harsha ‘baskets of variously coloured reeds’, ‘thick bamboo people. Mats were usually made of were grown and used as bridges. Evidence of the production of other cane articles is also supplied by the ‘Harshacharita’, which mentions stools of cane. The cultivation tubes’ and various birds in ‘bamboo cages’. All these prove that various industrial arts were developed in Assam at an early period and cane. The classical writers testify the abundance of cane in the forests of Assam. Ptolemy, for instance, states that to the east of Serica, which we have identified with Assam, there were hills and marshes where canes were continued to be practiced till recent times, based on that traditions like those of the craftsmen of other parts of India.

The making of bamboo and cane products is perhaps the most universal of all the crafts practiced by a large number of artisans scattered throughout the State. It is practiced as a household industry and no mechanical device is used. Cane and bamboo products are used for a wide range of purposes and extensively used in every household.