Textile Tour

Assam is a great destination for savouring a host of experiences, with handicraft and handloom topping the list. Visits to village homes where weaving is a part of the homestead’s lifestyle is now integral part of tours in the state. It is fascinating to watch looms go clickety-click and threads weave into colourful patterns while appreciating the beautiful continuity of the handloom and sericulture tradition.

Since long, Assam is renowned for three varieties of silk, commonly known as Assam silk: muga, paat and eri. The silk industry has been the pride of the state ever since the time of the Ahom rule (1228-1828), when muga especially became a part of Assamese people’s life. Muga silk was then reserved for the elite, while eri silk clothed the common man. Today, as designers are appreciating the lightness of eri silk, how it keeps the body cool during summer and warm in winter, one realises why eri is fast becoming a fabric for haute couture.

When better than to explore the fascinating lifecycle of eri silk? Other than the famed silk weaving destination of Sualkuchi, 45 km from Guwahati, Chaygaon, 60 km away, is where you can witness and experience a fascinating culture, a small-scale cottage industry where you witness the A-Z of eri silk weaving. Here, you visit a number of households – where hospitable villagers do not let you leave without a cup of tea – and learn how eri caterpillars eat castor plants, how after 30-32 days, the silkworm leaves to spin its cocoon, how moths leave the cocoon, how they are then harvested to be spun, and finally, how the yarns are dyed with tea leaves, onion peel, lac insect and iron ore. You then understand why eri is called “the fabric of peace” and why it is loved by Buddhist monks and vegans.

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