GUWAHATI, Oct 27 - An illustrated history of handloom and textiles of the State titled Assam: A Journey Through Textiles was released at a function held at a city hotel last evening.
Published by Speaking Tiger for Meera Women Weavers Association, a not-for-profit company, the book was released by a galaxy of eminent personalities including Justice N Kotiswar Singh, Prof Upendranath Sarma, former HoD of Dept of English, Cotton University, former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, former Union Minister Paban Singh Ghatowar, MP Pradyut Bordoloi, Rajya Sabha MP Akhilesh Prasad Singh, Kumar Sanjay Krishna, Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Suren Sarma, president Gauhati High Court Bar Association, Dr Sunil Kaul of ANT, a Chirang-based NGO working among weavers, and Manas Saikia of Speaking Tiger.
Speaking about the book, Krishna Sarma, director of Meera Women Weavers Association, said the central thesis of the book was that geography defines a people and their history, and that the mighty Brahmaputra river is the lifeline of the composite Assamese civilisation of which textiles are an important reference and idiom.
The book includes a brief chronological history of Assam and its geography, weaving traditions of 13 tribes, and the influences of Srimanta Sankaradeva’s neo-Vaishnavism and Islamic elements for the general reader to understand the myriad influences on the State’s common heritage.
“It is also an attempt to document and celebrate the diverse oral and living handloom weaving traditions, techniques, motifs and traditional attires of the Assamese people in a manner that deepens understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of different communities in Assam and finds a universal appeal and appreciation among a wider audience,” Sarma added.
Former Chief Minister Gogoi described the book as a valuable research work that looks into various aspects of weaving handloom and textiles of Assam.
“Assam has a rich heritage of weaving. The various ethnic groups of the State have immensely contributed towards enriching the handloom and textiles of Assam. Hundreds and thousands of families across Assam make a livelihood out of sericulture weaving on textiles. It is also very important to protect their interests,” he said.
Dr Kaul said there is an urgent need for introduction of modern technology to boost the traditional weaving skills of Assam. “More importantly, it is imperative to create the right kind of market linkage so that weaving and sericulture becomes a sustainable livelihood in the fast changing world,” he said.
Established in 2016, Meera Women Weavers Association is working with the twin objectives of joining efforts to document and preserve the silkworm rearing, design and weaving culture of Assam and providing a cooperative and commercially profitable platform for women weavers. One of its ambitious future projects is to set up a textile museum and a retail experience outlet directly sourced from women weavers in Guwahati.