Handicrafts of Northeast India
North-East has been a smorgasbord of various cultures, with its rich cultural heritage, Its people, make the region all the more exceptional. Handlooms and handicrafts form an integral part of the lifestyle of the indigenous people of this region. While most tribes and communities have their distinctive handicrafts, the materials used to make them are largely the same.
From Terracottas to wood carvings, from bamboo and crane products to mask making, from jewellery to Brass & Metalcrafts. North East India holds an invaluable traditional skill which attracts tourist from all over the world and tourist are bound to be awestruck by the diversity of arts and crafts of the region.
Assam and its Centuries Old Art & Craft
The finesse and exquisite workmanship of a wide variety of craft products of ancient Assam earned universal acclamation, as is evident from many literary and historical records. In all branches, craftsmanship like weaving and sericulture, or metal, ivory, wood, leather, clay, cane, bamboo works and the like, the reputation of Assamese artisans was equal to that of the craftsmen of other parts of contemporary India. The richness of the art and handicrafts of Assam beautifully reflects the bountifulness of its culture. Assam handicrafts played a major role in Assam Culture since some of are carried out for centuries. Here are Some of the Famous Handicrafts from the State of Assam.
Metal Craft: Bel Metal and Brass Metal. These are the two types of metal crafts which are available in Assam. Hajo and Sarthebari villages of Assam have established their names in the world of metal craft. The utensils made from the Bel metal can be explained into different types.viz. “kanhi” (dish), “bati” (bowl),” ban bati” (bowl with stand), “ghoti” “Koloh”(water vessel),“bota” (used for offering prasad and betel nut), “sorai” (used for religious purpose and to offer gifts to respected person), “tema” (box to keep ornaments & betel nut). Apart from the utensils and utility items artisans of the cluster also produce musical instruments like Tals (Cymbals) and decorative items like the flower vase. Lamp stands, decorative clocks etc. Copper and brass cups of Goalpara district known as Kansas are products of Assam of great significance. There are more than 300 families directly involved in this craft.
Barpeta’s Fireworks Crafts: Late Lakshiram Pathak of Majorhati, was the founder of fireworks industry in Barpeta 100 years back was also patronized by Queen Victoria who awarded the industry with a Gold medal.
Bamboo, Cane, Sitalpati Craft: India is one of the richest countries in the bamboo population with about 75 genera and 136 species, out of the total 1250 species of bamboo grown in the world. The North Eastern region alone hosts about 90 species under 13 genera. Products from cane and bamboo are the popular art form in Assam which practised since time immemorial. Being rich in bamboo and cane reserves, Assam produces some very useful and daily used utilities like baskets, hats, sieve, mats, chairs, stools, music instruments, and other useful furnishings out of bamboo and cane. Definitely creating a great example in Eco-Tourism. Jaap(Headgear), which is a great symbol of Assam, a matter of great significance in Assamese culture, offered as a sign of respect in ceremonies etc is made from tightly woven bamboo and/or cane and tokou paat (Trachycarpus martianus).
Pottery: Assam has a very good track record in the ancient ages for pottery. The Kumars and Hiras are the two famous communities of Assam who are perfect in the art of pottery. They make incense holder, clay pots and several other decorative articles. The famous locations are Asharikandi in Dhubri district, Hajo ( Chonmaguri) in Kamrup district, Majuli in Jorhat district, etc.
Wood Carving: Wood carving is found extensively in Sonitpur district. The artisans produce various type of wooden Rhino, Elephants, decorated pieces of wall hanging etc. Around 100 artisans now depend on woodcarving activities.
Masks: Masks or Mukha in Assamese plays an important role in the art and culture of Assamese. Majuli’s Famous Mukha Silpa or Mask making culture is a world-renowned article. Which is also featured in the British Museum. Cultural activities like dance involve the use of masks. The masks are made of wood, terracotta or metal.
Jewellery: Assam has a rich heritage in traditional jewellery. Assamese women proudly wear traditional jewellery on the occasions of Bihu-The State festival, marriages or casually. Some of the popular traditional Assamese jewellery include earrings with exquisite Lokaparo, Keru, Thuriya, Jangphai, Long Keru, Sona or Makori; an array of necklaces including Golpata, Satsori, Jon Biri, Bena, Gejera, Dhol biri, Doog doogi, Biri Moni, Mukuta Moni, Poalmoni, Silikha Moni and Magardana, and diversified rings including Senpata, Horinsakua, Jethinejia, bakharpata and others. Some designs are exclusively found in this region only. The traditional Assamese Jewellery is found in Barpeta ( 40 units), Jorhat ( 40 units) and Ranthali (450 units) in Nagaon district.