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Sunday, December 22, 2019

Muga the heirloom silk of Assam


Looking back at the beautiful bygone years, I transport myself to my Aita's (Grandmom) antique chest, where a neatly folded crip and slightly golden hued Muga silk chadar lie. I remember Aita telling me she weaved that chadar. Long back Assamese women weaved their own clothes especially mekhela chadars. weaving muga silk is highly esteemed in assamese culture in the yesteryears. 
In the Assamese language, Muga defines the golden hue. Exquisite and exclusive muga epitomizes opulent Assamese weaving culture. Muga is elusive and expensive whereas Eri Silk is an everyday affair. Muga is reserved for special occasions. In Assamese culture, muga is widely used by Bihu dancers and is a must-buy for the bridal trousseau. With the changing time and rising prices, Muga is not a regular buy for an average person.  
Muga is especially found in the form of mekhela chadar traditionally. Muga saree is commonly available in the market too. Indigenous Muga silk is produced by the Antheraea Assamensis caterpillar. 
Muga can be uka (plain) or with a mermaid of intricate designs. Kinkhap is a hugely used design in Muga. Durability is Muga silk's quintessential character and makes it so special that it can be inherited from one generation to another. In 2007, Assam acquired the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for Muga silk.
If you look back at muga history, it traces back to the Ahom dynasty between1602 to 1644. In the Ahom dynasty, Muga weaver used to get exempted from property taxes. The golden treasure of Assam Muga is only found in Assam. The humid and dense land helps to produce muga yarn. 
Because of the skyrocketing prices, unlike every indigenous fabric, Muga's authenticity is put to a question as well. In the market today, you can find muga being disguised with other fabric that can look like muga but is not muga. 
Wearing and owning a pair of Muga mekhela chadar is every Assamese girl's dream and glory. In various Bihu songs, the beauty of an assamese woman wearing mekhela chadar is mentioned. As they say, by gifting a muga mekhela chadar you can win an assamese girl's heart. 



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