the insect was first introduced into India from the north-east, The Mongolian origin and it refers especially to the Bodos.


/ by Bodopress
 ईनदि एमफौ निफ़्राय  इनदि खुनदं लुनाय. जाइखो   जों  थावखरी  बुंओ | Click on Image for Rani's Video 
Bodopress: 16 June 2020
Udalguri, Sericulture in Assam Bodo is an ancient industry without a precise time of origin. Bodo women were well known for the production of high-quality silk since ancient times. The craft of weaving goes along with the production of silk, which call ईनदि. It grew to such sophistication in Assam that it was known all over India and abroad. The first reference to Bodo's silk was probably in Valmiki's Ramayana. In the Kishkindha Kanda of Ramayana, it is stated that one travelling towards the east has to first pass through Magadha, Anga, Pundra and then the Kosha-karanam-bhumi ("the country of cocoon rearers"). Kautilya’s Arthashastra, political literature of the 3rd century BC, makes references to the highly sophisticated silk clothing from Northeast(Kamrup) of India. 

Kautilya mentions the production of Suvarnakudyaka (from Kamrup) along with Vangika(from Vanga/southern Bengal) and Paundrika(from Pundra/northern Bengal), all of which were types of Kauseya(Tussar/Muga) and Cina-Patta(Mulberry silk). The fact that Kamrup produced Suvarnakudyaka is confirmed by the 8th-century writer Kumārila Bhaṭṭa who, in his commentary of Arthashatra, said that the Muga silk was a product of Kamrupa(Kamarupeschaiva Suvarna Kudyah). As per the Arthashatra, the fibres of Suvarnakudyaka were of 'the colour of butter', 'as red as the sun', and of the best quality. Due to this description of colour, the type of silk can be easily identified as Muga. The Arthashatra also refers to four trees (Vakula, Likucha, Vata and Naga-visa) which the silkworms feed on. Out of this, Vakula and Naga-vriksa belong to the genus Ericales and Magnolia which the Muga silkworm Antheraea Bodo's handloom is known to feed on; while Likucha and Vata belong to the genus Moraceae(Mulberry) which the Pat Silkworm feeds on. The text also states that the fibre was spun while the threads were wet, indicating that the production method was still the same at that period. 

The knowledge of sericulture probably arrived with the Tibeto-Burman groups which arrived from China around the period of 3000-2000 BC. Moreover, there was another trade of Silk through the Southwestern Silk road which started from China, passed through Burma and Assam, finally getting connected to the main silk road in Turkmenistan. There are various other records to show that Silk came to India through Assam. As per the Sanskrit text Harshacharita (biography of North Indian ruler Harshavardhan written by the court poet Banabhatta in the 7th century), during the coronation ceremony of King Harshavardhan, king Bhaskarvarman of Kamrup gifted many precious items to the North Indian king. Out of this, the most important ones include silk items and other precious jewels. 

These included a white silk umbrella, sacks of woven silk and silken towels. It is also mentioned in the text that the silk fibres were so even and polished that it resembled Bhoj-Patra(golden in colour), here are also references of Assam silk in the records written by Huen Sang where he has written the use and trade of silk in Kamrup during the rule of king Bhaskar Varman.  "The Background of Bodo's culture states that: "The Kiratas,(an early Mongoloid race in Assam, were traders in silk, a word that was derived from the Mongolian original word ‘sirkek’. The Indian word ‘sari’ is probably derived from the same word. “It is therefore clear that in ancient times traders from different parts of Tibet, Central Asia and China flocked to Assam through various routes, and as they traded mostly in silk, they were generally called Seres – Cirrahadoi – Syrities – Cirata-Kirata. 

The word Kirata, therefore, is a general term referring to the people of the Mongolian origin and it refers especially to the Bodos.” These Bodos referred by Nath are today known as Bodo-Kacharis which includes groups such as Chutias, Boros, Dimasas, Rabhas, Sonowal, Garo, Koch and many more. J.Geoghegan in his book "Silk in India" states that: "It is the Kiratas who introduced the cultivation of silk with its different varieties in Assam and it is from Assam that Silk was later introduced to mainland India. Whatever may be the date of the introduction of the worm, its geographical distribution at the present day and the fact species first introduced was multivoltine, seem to me to lead to the conclusion that the insect was first introduced into India from the north-east (i.e. Assam)". 

Genetic research on silkworms shows that Assam silk originated in two specific regions of Assam. One was Garo Hills in the ancient Kamrup kingdom and the other was Dhakuakhana in the ancient Chutiya kingdom. 

As per the Naoboicha Phukanar Buranji, Muga was adopted in the Ahom courts at later period. As per the text, one of the Ahom kings upon the advice of his ministers took the decision of introducing Muga, Paat clothing and employed a thousand Muga producers and weavers from the Chutia community to weave royal garments in the capital.  Before that, the Ahoms are said to have worn black-coloured clothes. In the Assam Buranji, the Ahoms are mentioned as "Lunda-Munda Kula Kapur pinda luk"(black-clothed men) in the 16th century, which denotes they wore black cotton clothes till the 16th century similar to the other Tais of Yunnan and Burma. 

Due to this adoption of the clothing style of native rulers, Muga production received patronage from the Ahom dynasty in the later period of their rule. Royalty and senior mandarins were prescribed clothing made of the silk. 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.

Although Silk was cultivated and woven by women all around Assam, the silk clothes of a particular place named Sualkuchi achieved much fame during the Kamarupa as well as Ahom rule. Sualkuchi is said to have been established in the 11th Century by King Dharma Pala of the Pala dynasty that ruled western Assam from 900 AD to about 1100 AD. Dharmapala, the story goes, brought 26 weaver families from Tantikuchi in Barpeta to Sualkuchi and created a weavers' village close to modern-day Guwahati. Silk was given royal patronage during that period and Sualkuchi was made an important centre of Silk weaving. 

The Hand-loom industry of Sualkuchi encompasses cotton textile, silk textile as well as Khadi cloth which are, in fact, traditional cloth endowing high social and moral value in and outside the state. However, Sualkuchi is well known for silk textiles both mulberry and muga silk. In fact muga, "the golden fibre" is produced only in Assam and it has also tremendous export potentiality. Such activities are intimately linked with the culture and tradition of the Assamese people since long past. 

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