Historical Background

The geographical condition, ethnicity and historical connection in N.E. Region determine the economic, social and cultural activities of the region, which presents a colourful and complex picture of the different tribes living in unison and harmony. Handloom gives an insight into the way of life of the people with its myriad of colour and contour, its myriad motifs and designs mostly geo-osmorphic, zoomorphic, floral and sometimes geometric.

Mahatma Gandhi once eulogized the Assamese women for their weaving skills said “Assamese women can weave dream on their looms”. The state of Assam has world fame for its traditional skill of hand weaving. There are tales that “KAVACHKAPUR”, (talisman cloth) was woven by Assamese women within a night which was ginned, spun to form thread in the same night and when Assamese warrior went to the battle field wearing that fabric they never get defeated. The world famous ‘VRINDAVANI VASTRA’ which is preserved in Victoria and Albert museum, London developed in the period of Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva, which depicts Lord Krishna’s playfulness of “Krishna Leela” and was woven on handlooms at a place called “Tantikuchi” located near Barpeta in Assam. The Aahom king Rudra Pratap Singha also had a great interest in handloom weaving. During 1603-1641 A.D. the king settled many weavers in Sualkuchi area which is now called as the Manchester of Assam. The old scriptures like “KALIKAPURAN” (10th century A.D.) has described about the old handloom weaving tradition of Assam.

Assam has always a rich tradition of handloom weaving. Handloom weaving is in fact, the symbol of the largest and oldest cottage industry of Assam and there is hardly any village with no loom. Weaving has been descending from generation to generation through the pathways of centuries of old history. It is known for its rich textures and designs. In rural areas of Assam, almost in every household there is a primitive footloom or a handloom for weaving. For the people of Assam weaving is not just a commercial venture, but also a symbol of love and affection. Essentially a female craft, where it is customary for the girls to learn the art of weaving. Handloom weaving is characterized by its distinctiveness and although most of the products are of purely utility purpose some of them are used for certain occasion are of beauty, durable quality, delicate weave, dainty design and delightful colours.  The colour and design sense varies from weavers to weavers, tribes to tribes and community to community. The raw materials used in the industry of Assam are mainly Muga or golden silk, paat or mulberry silk, Eri or Endi silk which is also known as Non-violence silk. The traditional handloom products of Assam are Mekhla chaddar, gamocha, dhoti and kurta etc.


Sl. No.




Total Area 78,438.00 Sq. Kms.


Total Population of The State 3,11,69,272 Nos.


Total Districts 27 Nos.


Handloom Training Centres 102 Nos.


Handloom Training Institutes  4 Nos.


Handloom Production Centres 20 Nos.


Weaver’s Extension Service Units 98 Nos.


Handloom Households 12,40,817 Nos.


Handloom Workers 16,43,453 Nos.


Handloom Weavers 14,01,400 Nos.


Looms With Weaver’s Households 10,98,747 Nos.


Apex Level Cooperative Federation 1 No.


State Level Corporation 1 No.


Regional Level Handloom Cooperative Societies 2 Nos.


District Level Weavers Cooperative Societies 8 Nos.


Primary Weavers Cooperative Societies 3967 Nos.


Actively Functioning Weavers Cooperative Societies 1889 Nos.