History

‘Gamusa’ The Myriad Weave of Assam

Meet this unique blend of history and craftsmanship from a land of traditions called Assam. Situated south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys, Assam is one of the richest biodiversity zones in the world and consists of tropical rain-forests, deciduous forests, riverine grasslands, bamboo orchards and numerous wetland ecosystems.

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Adorned by young men & women during the famous “Bihu” festival, the “Gamusa” or the “Bihuwaan” portrays love and respect for a lover and an elderly family member. During the traditional Bihu dance, the men wrap it around their head with a knot. As an essential member of any Assamese household, the cloth finds multiple uses – to cover the Bhagavad Purana at the altar, around a farmer’s waist as a waistcloth, around the neck at the prayer hall (naamghar) or simply adorned as a scarf over one’s shoulder. In other words, the gamusa symbolizes the life and culture of Assam.

Measuring traditionally about 5 ft in length and 2 ft in width, this piece of hand-woven fabric is easily recognizable from its bright red and white colors. It signifies a myriad of elements and stories that is weaved onto the fabric. Cotton and silk are commonly used as raw materials. The motifs & patterns in a Gamusa depict nature, forests, flowers, zapi (traditional Assamese hat) or the famous Bihu dance of Assam.

Unlike other traditional elements, its popularity is seen ever increasing with time. It has found its way from hand weaving to the machines and into the world of fashion.

 

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