“When an Assamese woman weaves a cloth, she weaves a dream with it”
Sualkuchi , also known as a weaving village is a village of international repute. Situated on the bank of the river Brahmaputra, in Assam State of India, this picturesque village has been developed over the years as a major centre for commercial production of indigenous silk fabrics.
I visited Sualkuchi in 2013, for official purpose. While passing through the narrow streets of the village the rhythmic ‘click-clack, click-clack’ sound of the hand –looms shuttle flying through the sheds of the wrap make one dance with the rhythm. The wooden or bamboo sheds specially constructed for weaving has typified the traditional architecture, the walls are coated with mud to keep the interior cool in summers and warm in winters. Sualkuchi is famous as the ‘Manchester of Assam’.
As the tradition goes, a girl’s skill to weave was the primary qualification that made her eligible for marriage. Almost every household in this village is engaged in the process of weaving. They not only weave their own cloth, but also for commercial purpose. There are about 17000 silk handlooms presently working in Sualkuchi producing an eclectic range of silk products. Most of Sualkuchi’s silk is woven into Mekhela-Chadar and Gamosas, the traditional dresses. Muga the golden fabric silk is the most commonly weaved silk, Eri the Ahimsa silk ( non-violent or vegetarian silk ) , Mulberry and Tusser silk are the other types of silk weaved.
Majority of the communities in the village are engaged in weaving and the rest are farmers or fishermen. The village and surroundings are rich in ecological diversity and are home to both migratory and exotic local birds. The regional attraction consists of famous Kamakhya Temple and North Guwahati Traditional food and festivals are other attractions.
Besides weaving people are engaged in handicrafts like basket making, bamboo craft like hand fan making Assamese Jaapi, traditional umbrella etc. Visitors can try traditional dresses like Mekhla Chador, Gamocha, Jaapi etc and barge on tasty traditional food, and yes do not forget to buy original silk as souvenir.