Weaving industry of Assam


30th Dec, 2010



Weaving is a traditional industry of Assam. It is the most important cottage industry of Assam. Weaving has occupied an important place in the tradition and civilization in Assam since the ancient time. Weaving in Assam is so replete with artistic sensibility and so intimately linked to folk life.  Weaving has been a way of life in the state since times immemorial. The womenfolk along with their domestic chore essentially run this industry. The women of Assam are famous in the whole world for this craft. According to tradition, the skill to weave was the primary qualification of a young girl for her eligibility for marriage. According to M.K Gandhi, "Assamese women weave fairy tales in their clothes! However, weaving is essentially female craft, in villages such as Sualkuchi, both men and women practice weaving. Sualkuchi is a large centre for the production of muga cloth. The silk products of this area have acquired an international reputation. In the rural areas of Assam, almost every household there is a foot-loom or a handloom for weaving. Whenever the women of the household are free from other domestic works, she engages herself in weaving. No two hand-woven silks are exactly alike. Personality of the weaver, her hereditary skill, her innate senses of color and balance, all help to create a unique product. The oldest and largest industry in Assam is its handloom industry, known equally for its pristine simplicity and unequalled charm. For the people of Assam, weaving is not just a commercial venture but also a symbol of love and affection. The techniques of weaving are handed down over generations, allusions to that are available in Assamese literature and scriptures.



Year 1997-98



No. of Handlooms



No. of Handlooms


Yarn consumed

   (In 000kg)

Cloth Produced

    (In 000kg)







                                                                                 Source: basic statistics of NER, 2002


In the whole North-East India, the number of non-commercial looms was by far the largest in Assam. The number of looms in the State stands at around eight lakhs, which works out to around 16 per cent of the looms in the entire Country. More than thirty thousand looms operate exclusively in silk. Sualkuchi is the biggest centre of weaving in the State. There are more than 3,000 weavers in and around the township. The loom is a prized possession in every Assamese home. The traditional handloom silks of Assam famous in the world markets. They score over factory-made silks in the richness of their textures and designs, in their individuality, character and classic beauty.



Three varieties of silk: endi (a coarse brown silk), muga (very strong golden silk), pat (fine creamish white silk) are used in Assam as raw material for weaving. Rayon is another type of silk, which is also used as raw material especially for the commercial weaving units Sualkuchi, Palashbari and Hajo. Now-a-days, the increasing prices of essential raw materials of pat and tasar fabrics have been posing a serious threat to the livelihood of the weavers of Sualkuchi. The increasing prices of the raw materials have led to rise in the prices of finished products, which are not finding many purchasers. Therefore, the weavers and master weavers are feeling the pinch of hike in prices of raw materials and are resorting to distress sale of their products.


There are about 700,000 looms in Assam, where majority are primitive foot looms. Only some looms of Sualkuchi, used for commercial production of silk cloth, are powered. It is difficult to estimate the number of workers engaged in handlooms, because weaving is taken as an off-time job of the housewives and young girls in the rural areas.