Development of Bamboo and Cane Culture in ASSAM
Assam is one of the richest state in India in source of bamboos and canes of various species. Bamboo is a raw material of great flexibility and forms of the fundamental parts of the lifestyle and culture of Assam. Extensive use of wood over the ages for furniture and other products has challenged the environment more than ever before. The population of trees and forests is ever receding. This increasing need for wood has been beautifully supplemented by cane and bamboo. These eco-friendly products are light in weight and have their own style and elegance. Mizo Hills, Cachar, Mikir and North Cachar Hills, Nowgong and Lakhimpur districts are richest are in availability of raw materials for Bamboo and Cane Culture of Assam. The manufacturing or production of bamboo and cane products is perhaps the most universal of all the crafts practiced by a large number of artisans scattered throughout the State. This industry has shaped for itself an important place among the handicrafts of the State. It provides part time employment to the cultivators in their spare time, and full time employment to the few highly skilled artisans who produce only fine decorative baskets, furniture and mats on a commercial basis. Almost 51% species of bamboo grow in Assam and they are being used for diverse purposes, mainly for buildings, furniture and diverse contraptions.
History of Cane and Bamboo
It is assumed that the craft was practiced since the misty past with the very dawn of civilization. In the early period in Assam, bamboo was held with special reference and is forbidden to cut in “auspicious days”. It is a general belief that bamboo possesses auspicious character and is of religious significance. An idea about the developing state of cane and bamboo products of Assam was fond even during the time of Bhaskara Varman (early part of the 7th century A.D.), the king of Assam, may be had from the following extract. (An extract from “The History of Civilization of the People of Assam” by Dr P.C. Chouudhury.) Earlier well-decorated and coloured sital patis (cool mats) used by the rich people. Mats were usually made of cane. The classical writers testify the abundance of cane in the forests of Assam. There were hills and marshes in Assam where canes were grown and used as bridges. Evidence of the production of other cane articles is also supplied by the ‘Harshacharita’, which mentions stools of cane. The cultivation of bamboo and its use for various purposes are well known. Bana again testifies to this highly developed craft. He states that Bhaskara sent to Harsha ‘baskets of variously coloured reeds’, ‘thick bamboo tubes’ and various birds in ‘bamboo cages’.
Community and Caste involved in making
It is assumed that there is no particular caste or community in the Assam Valley who are exclusively connected with this traditional craft. It is generally carried on by all, particularly the peasants irrespective of caste, community or creed.
Manufacturing of Products
Assam is one of the richest state in maximum resources of cane and bamboo industry. Almost 51% species of bamboo grow in Assam and they are being used for diverse purposes, mainly for buildings, furniture and diverse contraptions. Bamboo is also used for umbrella handles, walking sticks, tool handles, fishing rods, tent poles, cordage, ladders, yokes, baskets, toys, hand-fans and various domestic and agricultural implements. All these articles can be produced on a cottage and small-scale basis with small machineries. Presently, there are vast untapped resources of bamboo that can open avenues for utilization of bamboo for many productive works. The prospects of establishment of several pulp and paper plants, big and small, on bamboo alone, is tremendous. Apart from forests, bamboo is also plentiful in the villages throughout the State.
| Even though Assam has been traditionally rich in bamboo, bamboo...
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