Textile Tradition of Northeast

ERI

The name “Eri” is derived from an Assamese word “Era” the castor plant. It is one of the softest and purest forms of Silk which is fancied by silk lovers all over the world. The silkworms give the Eri Silk a dull yellow, gold like sheen. Used as a shawl/wrapper in olden times, this wonderful silk has undergone enormous technical advancements in today’s time to be used in every kind of fashion and home décor products. Eri or Errandi Silk is a signature fabric from North-East India, which is also popularly known as 'Ahimsa Silk' or the 'Silk of Peace' due to methods used in its production. Unlike other silks, the moth is allowed to leave the cocoon before the Eri silk is extracted earning the fabric the recognition of an ‘eco friendly’ fabric.

FEATURES & PROPERTIES


• Eri silk has excellent thermal insulating property which is rare in any other textiles
• Its blends with wool, cashmere, bamboo, linen, ramie etc.
• Its anti-fungal, high moisture regain, soft and subtle
• Protects the body from cold as well hot climate, from skin allergy, skin disease, infection etc
• It is very strong and elastic and is relatively odorless compared to other fibers sourced from animal origin
• Technology today has made it possible for Eri to be spun differently, have different textures, and be available in different colors
• This makes it easier for designers to adopt Eri in their creations. From baby clothes to traditional saris to bridal gowns, this sustainable fabric is emerging as a very popular choice
• 98% of India’s eri silk is produced in Assam and the North-east. It is therefore the silk of the real silk country
• Eri shawls are offered inside the coffins with the belief that, it will protect the human being even after his/her death by some communities
APPLICATIONS


• Fashion apparels like saree, mekhela chadar, kurta, tops, goens, skirts, shirts, trousers, jacket, tie etc.
• Home Decor like curtains, table runners, table cloth, cushion covers, pillow covers etc.
• Eri is used to make winter wear clothing such as shawls, stoles, and jackets due to its thermal properties
• Considered as ‘Holy fabric’, it is used by Buddhist monks in India, Bhutan, Nepal, China, Japan due to its cruelty-free process
• Sericin, a powder extracted from Eri silk cocoons can also be used in development of cosmectics

Muga

This golden yellow colour silk is prerogative of India and the pride of Assam state. It is obtained from semi-domesticated multivoltine silkworm, Antheraea assamensis. These silkworms feed on the aromatic leaves of Som and Soalu plants and are reared on trees similar to that of tasar. Muga culture is specific to the state of Assam and an integral part of the tradition and culture of that state. One of the most expensive of silks in the world, Muga is used to make sarees and mekhela chadar, which is the traditional outfit of the Assamese people.

FEATURES & PROPERTIES


• It is a very durable fabric and is known to outlive its owner
• This silk gets more lustrous as it ages and the fabric gets softer with every wash
• Experiments on Muga silk prove that this silk can absorb close to 80% ultra-violet rays and also absorbs moisture beautifully. This makes it an ideal fabric to use as sunshield
• This fabric is not just a luxurious piece of fabric but an ecological marvel as well. The silkworms that create Muga, the Antheraea Assamensis, are as old as dinosaurs
• It cannot tolerate even the most minimum of pollution levels
• Ahom kings were known to keep many costly Muga sets in the royal storehouse for presentation to distinguished visitors to their court
• Queens were personally involved in training weavers. The fabric was also a chief export of the Ahoms
• It is known for its resilience. It can be given a fine texture by dry ironing it in a damp state or it can attain a crushed look by not getting ironed
APPLICATIONS


• Extensively used for making apparels like mekhela chadors and sarees. The Muga mekhela-chador is a traditional dress of Assamese women for Bihu dances and weddings
• It is used in making various items like hats, caps, scarf’s, wraps, stoles, quilts, bridal wear, upholstery, mens kurtas etc.
• It is also in great demand in Japan to make kimonos and other traditional garments. Also countries like U.S., Greece, Germany, South Africa and France are keen in using Muga due to its UV ray protection property

Handlooms

The age old tradition of hand weaving is very dear to us. We consider it as a true source of inspiration and art. The care, love, compassion and meditations involved in the development of hand woven fabrics is difficult to express in words and can be understood only upon feeling the fabric. The touch of it can fill one with that aspect of nature which is raw and organic. A sense of nature that is passed on to us from the warm abodes of the handloom, from the touch of the weaver’s artistic hands and the spirits of the silkworms itself. The tradition of Handloom weaving is integral to the socio-cultural fabric of India. Handloom products entail distinctive features by geographical distribution and traits of local craftsmanship. The north eastern region of India, and especially the state of Assam in particular is acknowledged as a prime location for this tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Deva Vastra


The synthesis of both tribal and non-tribal techniques have contributed greatly to the development of the handloom sector in this region. The glory of handloom products has been seeping across our domestic borders and are present worldwide. Some pieces have even been lionzed and placed in the world’s most prestigious museums. One such example is that of the Vrindavani Vastra. This historic textile was first developed by Sri Sankardeva at the request of the Koch King Naranarayana in the 17th century. It depicts the life of Lord Krishna, the fun and frolic of his time in Vrindavan. Legend tells us the Vastra was so long, broad and heavy, it took 60 people to spend, roll back, tie and lift it. It is known to be 60 yards long and 30 wide. It remains a mystery as to where its remains can be found today, as fragments of it have been discovered in Tibet as well as far flung Europe.
Fabric Plus considers the traditional of Handloom textiles a special form of art. We strive to maximise the utility of this practice and encourage communities across the land to continue practicing and innovate towards the development of newer products.
We understand that this form of art stands on loose ground as much of today’s upcoming generations are losing interest in such traditional practices. Big cities attract youngsters with enticing lifestyle and work opportunities, but at the same time, the sentiments towards life in the village is one that is close at heart. We have seen that by opening up new job opportunities across rural communities, the people there find it a privilege to be working in their true home and pursuing an age old tradition that garners both esteem and respect.
Thus, it is with a mindset that is eager to explore what this form of art, with innovation and experiment, can offer to markets worldwide. How handloom textiles can be seen on the streets of London, Paris, New York and other international Fashion Hubs. How Handloom textiles can promote stories through its fabric and motifs. And most importantly, how handloom textiles can share the significance of what it means to wear a fabric that isn’t part of fast fashion but a fabric that teaches us the importance of sustainability and respect to our ancestors, traditions and stories that were told before and those we tell now.