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An Assamese lady weaving on the traditional Loom ~ Kaziranga ~ Assam ~ India

When Mahatma Gandhi saw Assamese women working on looms in Suwalkuchi, the silk village, during his visit to Assam in 1946, he said: Assamese women weave dreams on their looms. People of the various communities of Assam are traditionally good weavers apart from being experts in basketery, mat-making, fishing implements and various other handloom and handicraft activities. Not only in Sualkuchi, but across the various villages of Assam one can find various forms of arts and crafts. From the various forms of silk to the arts of bamboo handicrafts, pottery, metal crafts, etc. Assam has always been producing arts and crafts in a production method that has not changed and is similar as decades ago due the technique of producing these goods as handmade.

In every community, there are different forms of baskets for different purposes, as also different kinds of earthen, brass and bell-metal pots and plates. The bamboo on the other hand is very important to the Assamese communities. From making various kinds of flutes to making pyre for the dead, bamboo is an inseparable that while a young man in a bihu song describes the bamboo grove as his sibling from the same womb, an adage says – jaar nai baanh, tar nai saah (meaning one who doesn’t have a bamboo, does not possess courage)!

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Various traditional musical instruments of Assam made of bamboo and wood ~ Kaziranga ~ Assam ~ India

Women on the other hand work over eight hours a day picking two leaves and a bud with nimble fingers from the lush-green tea bushes from which are produced several varieties of tea that are exported to all over the globe. At home, women in the Assamese communities are simply wizards of the heart, making countless mouth-watering dishes and recipes even out of simple herbs growing in the backyard. These Assamese women are also expert weavers on handlooms and weave out some of the finest handmade textiles across the World! Literally every home in an Assamese Village has a loom and the spirit of weaving on these looms are inculcated in the minds of the girls of the traditional village family from a young age. At certain villages, the ability to weave out exquisite ‘Gamusas’ and traditional towels from the loom is a characteristic every prospective bride should possess and acts as a prerequisite for marriage. This weaving ability of these ladies has ensure that this art form of Assam is still very much alive and practiced extensively that gives you bright and beautiful colored patterns of handmade traditional garments which are a treat to the eyes of every beholder.

1| The Indigenous Silk Fabrics of Assam – Muga, Pat & Eri

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The grandeur of the Pat Silk of Assam ~ Suwalkuchi ~ Assam ~ India

The Silk fabrics of Assam are renowned across the World for its grandeur and have earned recognition from around the World. Silk weaving is an important occupation of the people of Assam and it also forms an important aspect of the socio-cultural life of Awesome Assam. Silk weaving looms are found across a majority of tribal households of Assam that weave out exclusive garments of the three varieties of the silks of Assam namely the Muga silk, the Eri silk and the Pat silk. Visitors to Assam who have seen these three varieties of silks of Assam easily proclaim that there is nothing as grand as the Muga silk of Assam.

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Young girls perform a Bihu Dance wearing the Muga silk Mekhela Chador ~ Guwahati ~ Assam ~ India

Muga silk of Assam is of a naturally golden color and is considered among the finest varieties of silk in India. Produced only in the State of Awesome Assam, it was prevalent in the earlier times that the ability to weave the Muga silk of Assam was a primary qualification for a young girl for her eligibility for marriage. This fact perhaps explains as to why Assam has the highest concentration of handloom weavers in India primarily in the town of Suwalkuchi – ‘the Manchester of the East’. Sericulture in Assam is a traditional cottage industry which is rooted in the life and culture of Assam. The Muga silk of Assam has a unique characteristic wherein the shine of the Muga silk fabric improves after every wash which notably makes it one of the most expensive silk varieties in the World. In Assam, for every Assamese women, the Muga silk Mekhela chador is the most prized possession!

The Pat silk of Awesome Assam is of a brilliant white or offwhite color and is produced from the ‘Bombyx textor’ silkworm which feeds on mulberry leaves. The Pat silk of Assam is known for its brightness, high quality and durability. Pat silk has a unique characteristic wherein the fabric made from this silk variety of Assam can dry in a shadow.

The Eri silk of Assam is another popular silk variety of Assam and has a coarse and thick texture owing to the reason that most of the fabric is hand spun. Eri silk has a characteristic of being warm and that allows it to be spun into shawls and jackets. In addition, the Eri silk of Awesome Assam has a characteristic of being anti-fungal, non toxic, biodegradable and a most sustainable form of textile. Eri is also referred to as the non-violent silk.

For more information on the Silks of Assam Email us at: info@jungleideas.com

2| Bamboo & Cane Handicrafts of Assam

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The various traditional Handicrafts made from Bamboo and Cane in Kaziranga Orchid Park ~ Kaziranga ~ Assam ~ India

The indigenous people of Assam have practiced handicrafts as a profession from times immemorial. The vast availability of raw materials viz. bamboo and cane across the forests of Assam have made the people of Assam practice this art as a profession and this over time has ensured that the people of Assam transform into adept craftsmen. The handicrafts of Assam made from Bamboo and cane look exquisite and are exported across the World. Although most people in Assam use bamboo and cane handicrafts for their personal day to day use in their households but in recent times the fine craftsmanship of these bamboo and cane products have caught attention and people from across the World visit Assam to witness this age old practices of handicrafts in the villages of Assam along with the intrinsic process of silk weaving in Assam.

Bamboo is particularly inseparable from the lives of all communities of Assam and thus also comprise the most important raw material for handicrafts. Equally important is the use of cane. Bamboo and cane crafts have been practiced in Assam since ages and every traditional home in the State is full of various items of daily use made of bamboo and cane. These include a whole range of baskets, musical instruments, fishing implements, weaving accessories, chairs and stools and finally the Jappi – the traditional sun shade. There are several villages across Assam by the name Jappi-sajiya – meaning village where Jaapis are made.

The handicrafts of Awesome Assam are completely hand made which gives them an exclusive finish. Bamboo tree is the lifeline of the people of Assam and is used in construction of a complete house. Bamboo fences and bridges over streams are a common sight to be seen across the villages of Assam. Bamboo and cane handicrafts of Assam include bamboo mats, bamboo and cane furnitures, cane walking sticks, bamboo and cane baskets, musical instruments, bamboo fishing traps, bamboo hats, hand fans, bamboo slit screens, floor mats, cane seats, bamboo trays, bamboo beer mugs, bow and arrows, etc. The ‘Jhapi’ of Assam which is a traditional hat continues to be the most prestigious of all bamboo items of Assam and visitors to Awesome Assam are welcomed with the ‘Jhapi’ and the traditional towel of Assam viz. the ‘Gamusa’.

Bamboo has been intrinsically associated with the life and culture of Assam. From birth ’til death, people of Assam have incorporated bamboo in every aspect of their life. Its importance in Assam can be measured by the fact that it is not only used for handicrafts, but also in the kitchen to make sumptuous dishes out of the bamboo ingredient of Assam viz. the ‘Khorisa’. Bamboo is further employed in medicines as a remedy to fight various diseases.

For more information on the Bamboo and Cane Handicrafts of Assam Email us at: info@jungleideas.com

3| Water Hyacinth Handicrafts of Assam

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Various Water hyacinth handicrafts of Assam ~ Guwahati ~ Assam ~ India

Water Hyacinth is a free floating aquatic plant. Commonly found across the State of Assam, this plant has been known to cause havoc especially in the fisheries and lakes of Assam as it chokes marine life and provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes. But these days, the artisans of Assam have found a very interesting way of putting this havoc of a plant into good use viz. the water hyacinth handicrafts of Awesome Assam.

The stem of the water hyacinth plant is used to make beautiful water hyacinth handicrafts like purses, ladies hand bags, mobile covers, file covers, hand fans, slippers, etc. Though not produced in mass scale these products are gradually catching up in the Indian and global markets. Continuous research is being put into development of more exclusive handicrafts from water hyacinth and launching these across International markets. Visitors to Assam can buy these handicrafts from retail outlets at Guwahati.

For more information on the Water Hyacinth Handicrafts of Assam Email us at: info@jungleideas.com

4| Bell Metal Handicrafts of Assam

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The traditional Bell Metal craft of Sarthebari ~ Sarthebari ~ Assam ~ India

Assam’s metal products – made of bell metal and brass – are not only in use in every household in the State but also have an international market. While utensils dishes, plates, tumblers and bowls of these metals are found in use in every home, musical instruments like bells and large gongs travel all the way into numerous Buddhist Monasteries in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar apart from the neighbouring states like West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Bihar. Utensils specially made for religious rituals on the other hand have a huge market in temples, naam-ghars as well as in domestic prayer rooms.

While Hajo, about 25 kms from Guwahati is famous for its bell metal cottage industry, manufacture of brass metal items is a household activity in the villages of Sarthebari about 100 km west of Guwahati. Bell metal items are of major utilitarian and aesthetic value in Assam; they are inseparable items in marriage and religious ceremonies, eating on bell metal dishes is considered good for health. Most common bell metal items include cymbals, bhog-jora, baan-kanhi, baan-baati, pik-daani, etc. while huge cymbals and gongs in most Buddhist Monasteries across the country are also made in Assam. The most popular brass metal product on the other hand is the sorai – a traditional utensil for ceremonial offering of betel nuts and betel leaves used during weddings and other social rituals, as also in welcoming guests as souvenir.

For more information on the Bell Metal Handicrafts of Assam Email us at: info@jungleideas.com

5| Pottery Crafts of Assam

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Traditional hand pottery of Assam at Majuli ~ Majuli ~ Assam ~ India

Earthen pottery works has been a part of human life since times immemorial. Assam in fact has two professional communities called Kumar and Hira who were traditionally engaged in earthen pottery. While the Kumars use the wheel in their workshops, the Hira people make pottery products without using the wheel. Moreover, while only men in the Kumar community, it is the women who display more expertise in the trade.

Assam also has a rich tradition of terracotta, and Asharikandi village near Dhubri is said to be one of the most important terracotta artisans’ village in the whole of India. The main raw material for terracotta is a particular soil called hira-mati (meaning diamond earth) in Assamese.

With tourists from different countries visiting the village, terracotta products of Asharikandi have travelled to different parts of the World.

Other places worth visiting nearby Dhubri town; while Guru Nanak visited Dhubri in 1505 and met Srimanta Shankardeva there, Guru Tegh Bahadur established the Gurudwara at that site in 1669. This is the oldest Gurudwara across North East India and hundreds of Sikhs come here for pilgrimage. Other places close to Asharikandi worth visiting include the Mahamaya Temple at Bagribari, the 17th century Rangamati mosque, the Panch Peer Dargah in Dhubri town, the Matiabag Palace at Gauripur and the Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary.

For more information on the Pottery Handicrafts of Assam Email us at: info@jungleideas.com

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A collection of various Handicrafts and Handlooms of Assam on display ~ Guwahati ~ Assam ~ India
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Exquisite bamboo handicrafts of Assam on display ~ Kaziranga ~ Assam ~ India
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Exquisite traditional Loom and handlooms of Assam on display ~ Kaziranga ~ Assam ~ India
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Traditional Bamboo and Water Hyacinth Handicrafts of Assam on display ~ Guwahati ~ Assam ~ India
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A Deori tribe lady weaving on a traditional loom ~ Guwahati ~ Assam ~ India
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A traditional weaving Loom of Assam ~ Kaziranga ~ Assam ~ India
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Exquisite handlooms of Assam on display ~ Kaziranga ~ Assam ~ India
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The Grand White Pat Silk of Assam ~ Bijoynagar ~ Assam ~ India
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Dyed Eri Silk Silk and Leather handbags of Assam ~ Bijoynagar ~ Assam ~ India
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Traditional Cane crafted bags from Nalbari ~ Nalbari ~ Assam ~ India
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Beautiful display of Traditional Bell metal handicrafts of Assam ~ Sarthebari ~ Assam ~ India
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Ghicha Silk and Leather handbags of Assam ~ Bijoynagar ~ Assam ~ India
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Traditional jute bags handicrafts of nalbari in Assam ~ Nalbari ~ Assam ~ India
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Traditional Bell metal handicrafts of Assam ~ Sarthebari ~ Assam ~ India
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A Mishing tribe lady weaving on the traditional loom ~ Naharkatia ~ Assam ~ India
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Weaving of Muga silk Mekhela Chador on the traditional loom ~ Suwalkuchi ~ Assam ~ India
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A Tai Phake tribe lady weaving on the traditional loom ~ Naharkatia ~ Assam ~ India
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A Tangsa tribe lady weaving on the traditional loom ~ Jagun ~ Assam ~ India

Seeking ‘Green Gold’ amidst the dense forests – Importance of Bamboo in the Handicrafts Industry and also the lifestyle of the people of Assam!

The North East of India has a vast area of its land under forest cover. Although this size has decreased over the years due to random felling of trees for the purposes of timber and the use of forest land for construction purposes but still the area under cover is noteworthy. The State of Assam has a total of 27,673 Sq. Km. forest cover. This area is 24.58% of the total geographical area of the state and also 3.2% of India’s total forest cover. These forests are home to some exotic species of Flora, Fauna and Avi Fauna. The endangered species of the likes of the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros, the Capped and Golden Langurs seek shelter in the forest covers of the National Parks of Assam. One noteworthy product of the forests of Assam is the ‘Poor Man’s Timber’ – the Bamboo plant.

Bamboo or ‘Bambuseae’, is a tribe of flowering perennial evergreen plants and one of the most versatile grasses found on Earth. This amazing grass is extremely fast growing and can be harvested and put to use very soon. For centuries now, people have been using bamboo for almost everything from food to construction. Bamboo can be used as a wood substitute for construction work and also for making furniture. Other products from Bamboo include paper, cloth, handicraft items, weapons and musical instruments from bamboo. While the shoots and other tender parts of the plant are used to make pickles and other food items.

Today, with the growing competition the craft of making bamboo furniture and utensils has also been revamped. Manufacturers are using bamboo to makes Sofa sets, Weaved bamboo blind and screen, Barbecue sticks, Fruit forks, Party picks and many more. Though the aim is to capture the foreign markets, the traditional designs and patterns used are equally popular among youth who relive their heritage by giving patronage to this ancient craft. Not only is Bamboo used only for making products of Interior Decor. People of Assam are well aware of the tensile strength of this material and they have experimented this across many generations. Results of these tests have led to Bamboo being used in construction of Homes and Cottages mostly by the Tribal people. Small thatched houses made from Bamboo are a sight to be spotted across the entire States of North East India. People have also perfected in the use of Bamboo to make Bridges across the many small rivers of Assam. These bridges are of high tensile strength and easily can allow transportation of people and two wheelers across the rivers of the State.

The people of Assam and expert craftsmen when its comes to making of extrinsic Handicrafts and Handlooms. The handicrafts made from Bamboo look exquisite and are exported across the World. Although most of the people use Bamboo handicrafts for their own personal use in their households but in recent times these products have caught global attention and people from across the World visit Assam to witness these age old practices of Handicrafts in the villages of Assam. During your journey across Assam you will find many number of small shops that sell these exquisite Handicrafts.

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Exclusive Bamboo Lamps for interior decor to heighten your romantic evenings ~ Guwahati ~ Assam ~ India

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Beautiful and exquisitely crafted Bamboo Lamps of Assam and North East India ~ Guwahati ~ Assam ~ India
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Smoked Bamboo Handicrafts from Meghalaya on display at a Trade Fair in North East India ~ Guwahati ~ Assam ~ India
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Tensile and Durable Bamboo Bridge across River Tirap that facilitate transport of people and two wheeler vehicles at Assam in North East India
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I have resided out of Assam for 12 years at the IT capital of India, ‘Bangalore’. I never thought of returning back to my state due to the career prospects and this made me adopt the culture and language of Karnataka. I enjoyed living in Bangalore (as many others who reside here and fall in love with the city, the climate and the night life). I made many friends in Karnataka, both localities and residents from other states. Though many of my friends belonged from various states in India they knew one thing about Assam and that one thing I was always asked to get back from my visit to Assam was ‘Assam Silk’. After my vacation I ensured to carry this gift ‘Assam Silk Sarees’ for the near and dear ones of my friends. Their joy knew no bounds on seeing the silk and I was rewarded with something unique from their state from handicrafts of Odisha and Rajasthan to the exclusive ‘Kashmiri Pashmina’. And this practice continued for many years.

Years passed and one fine day I decided to leave Bangalore and return back to Assam. I was lucky to get a job here and with all my belongings I returned to Assam on 19th November, 2014. At the beginning I never liked Assam and always wanted to get out of this place. But as people say – ‘Distance makes the hearts grow fonder’ I wanted to relive my life in Assam and God did give me this opportunity (Must be the bell I tied at the Tiling Mandir/Bell Temple). So once I was back I decided to explore the state and on every Sunday I would set out for a day of adventure in and around Guwahati. My visits took me to Mayong – the Land of Black Magic, Chandubi Lake, the Kamakhaya Temple, the Umanananda temple, Hajo and many other nearby places in Guwahati. But one of my most memorable visits has been to Bijoynagar.

Situated 50 kilometers from Guwahati is what we can call ‘the Haven for pure Silk lovers – the town of Bijonagar’. The hours spent on ‘Google’ for ‘Assam Silk’ lead me to this place in search on a person named Mr. Narmohan Das. Das Da, as people in the area call him, is a revered person in this silk village. A visionary, an Entrepreneur and most strongly a man who believes in realizing his dream. A one man army who transformed this not so well known village to a place where people from all over the world come to visit. My interaction with Das Da made me realize a blunder I have been committing for all these years. His in depth knowledge of the silks of Assam made me realize that there is no fabric known as Assam Silk! Assam silk constitutes of three main categories of silk namely – the ‘golden Muga’, the ‘white Pat’ and the warm ‘Eri silk’. A person selling/buying/gifting a fabric called as Assam Silk is committing a blunder (so did I) because no fabric as such exists!

Mr. Narmohan Das is a one the prominent person in Assam who is keeping the practice of Silk worm rearing alive. These indigenous fabrics of Assam has lost its significance to the many cheap imitations in the market and people like Das Da is striving to keep this tradition alive battling against all odds. Bringing in variations to the fabric has helped in achieving this objective to a great extent. Eri silk dyed in natural colors like turmeric, tea, cow-dung, etc. has began gaining international recognition and these fabrics are exported worldwide from this small village. ‘Stoles of Eri Silk’ and ‘Silk for Kimono’s’ in Japan are certain other exclusive products available only with Das Da. The ‘Queen of England’ is a regular buyer of Das da’s silk and one exclusive material that ships out every year are carpets made out of ‘Muga Silk’ – all the way from tinsel town in Bijoynagar to the Palace of Buckingham in England. Over 300 weavers from across villages in and around Bijoynagar are toiling day and night with Mr. Narmohan Das to keep this treasure of Assam alive and renowned across all corners of the world.

The grandeur of silks of Assam have been penned down by many writers and can continue across many pages but wouldn’t end without the mention of ‘Suwalkuchi – the Mansheter of the East’. Located 35km away from Guwahati on the northern bank of the river Brahmaputra, is the renowned silk-weaving centre Sualkuchi. Often known as the Manchester of the East, it is one of world’s largest weaving villages. Sualkuchi is famed for its ‘Muga’ silk, i.e the natural golden silk (not dyed) of Assam which is not produced anywhere else in the world. Other varieties like ‘Endi’ or ‘Tassar’ and ‘Pat’ silks are also woven here.

A picturesque town, Suwalkuchi is surrounded by a forest range, well-tended agricultural fields and the numerous village fishing ponds to complete the rustic picture. Rich in ecological diversity, both migratory and exotic local birds are sighted here, in addition to important mammals such as porcupines, Rhesus monkey, Hog deer, Barking deer, rabbits, Gangetic dolphins etc. Over 30 species of butterflies, moths, beetles, bugs, caterpillars, ants and bees add to the ‘buzz’ of life at the Silk town of Assam. Apart from its silk weaving Suwalkuchi is also famous for the popular for its annual boat festival. This race is organized to commemorate the death anniversary of Srimanta Sankardev (1449 -1568). Srimanta Sankardev is considered as a colossal figure in the cultural and religious history of Assam. In the year 1965 a rowing competition committee was formed not only to revive this old age tradition but also to strengthen the harmony ,unity and integrity amongst the people belonging to different cast and communities of the area. Both Hindus and Muslims participate in it with equal enthusiasm.

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the Ghisa Silk Fabric

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Eri Silk dyed with Cowdung Natural Dye

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Eri Silk dyed with Turmeric Natural Dye

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Eri Silk dyed with Haritaki Natural Dye

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The Traditional Silk of Assam – Mekhela Chador

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The White Pat Silk of Assam

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Traditional Assam Silk

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Welcome to the Silk Town of Assam and Manchester of East ~ Suwalkuchi ~ Assam ~ India

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Welcome to the Silk Town of Assam ~ Suwalkuchi ~ Assam ~ India

The Bell Metal Crafts of Sarthebari in Assam ~ 

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Bell Metal Xorai of Assam ~ Sarthebari ~ Assam ~ India

Assam’s metal products – made of bell metal and brass – are not only in use in every household in the State but also have an international market. While utensils dishes, plates, tumblers and bowls of these metals are found in use in every home, musical instruments like bells and large gongs travel all the way into numerous Buddhist Monasteries in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar apart from the neighbouring states like West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Bihar. Utensils specially made for religious rituals on the other hand have a huge market in temples, naam-ghars as well as in domestic prayer rooms.

While Hajo, about 25 kms from Guwahati is famous for its bell metal cottage industry, manufacture of brass metal items is a household activity in the villages of Sarthebari about 100 km west of Guwahati. Bell metal items are of major utilitarian and aesthetic value in Assam; they are inseparable items in marriage and religious ceremonies, eating on bell metal dishes is considered good for health. Most common bell metal items include cymbals, bhog-jora, baan-kanhi, baan-baati, pik-daani, etc. while huge cymbals and gongs in most Buddhist Monasteries across the country are also made in Assam. The most popular brass metal product on the other hand is the sorai – a traditional utensil for ceremonial offering of betel nuts and betel leaves used during weddings and other social rituals, as also in welcoming guests as souvenir.

With our Mission of promoting India’s North East to the World through its Tourism, Culture, Tribes, Wildlife & Handicrafts, Jungleideas brings forth to you to the option of owning these prized Bell Metal crafts of Assam at your doorstep. We work closely with the manufacturers of Bell Crafts at Sarthebari and Hajo and ensure to bring to you 100% genuine and original products that will bring a bewildering grandeur to your dining needs. We urge you to take a look at our offerings in Bell Metal products and place your order at the earliest to reap the benefits and save this dying art from India’s Paradise Unexplored ~ the Incredible North East of India!

Bell Metal Handicraft, Assam Handicraft, Assam Handloom, Kaziranga National Park
Bell Metal plates used to serve lunch and dinner to guests ~ Sarthebari ~ Assam ~ India
Bell Metal Handicraft, Assam Handicraft, Assam Handloom, Kaziranga National Park
Bell Metal glasses used to serve water ~ Sarthebari ~ Assam ~ India
Bell Metal Handicraft, Assam Handicraft, Assam Handloom, Kaziranga National Park
Assortment of Bell Metal utensils on display ~ Sarthebari ~ Assam ~ India
Bell Metal Handicraft, Assam Handicraft, Assam Handloom, Kaziranga National Park
Various sizes of Bell metal plates and saucers on display ~ Sarthebari ~ Assam ~ India
Bell Metal Handicraft, Assam Handicraft, Assam Handloom, Kaziranga National Park
Various sizes of Bell metal saucers on display ~ Sarthebari ~ Assam ~ India
Bell Metal Handicraft, Assam Handicraft, Assam Handloom, Kaziranga National Park
Bell Metal clocks as showpieces for display ~ Assam ~ India
Bell Metal Handicraft, Assam Handicraft, Assam Handloom, Kaziranga National Park
Bell Metal saucers used to serve Curd and Jaggery ~ Sarthebari ~ Assam ~ India