Assam's silk fabrics have earned immense recognition from all over the world. The state is home to several types of silks, the most prominent and prestigious being muga, the golden silk exclusive to this state. Muga apart, there is paat, and eri, the latter being used in the manufacture of warm clothes.
Of a naturally rich golden colour, muga is the finest of India's wild silks. It is produced only in Assam. The women of Assam weave fairy tales in their looms. In earlier times, the skill to weave was the primary qualification of a young girl for her eligibility for marriage. This perhaps explains why Assam has the largest concentration of handlooms and weavers in India. One of the world's finest artistic traditions finds expression in their exquisitely woven 'Eri', 'Muga' and 'Pat' fabrics.
The traditional handloom silks still hold their own in world markets They score over factory-made silks in the richness of their textures and designs, in their individuality, character and classic beauty. No two handwoven silks are exactly alike. Personality of the weaver, her hereditary skill, her innate sense of colour and balance all help to create a unique product.
Today, India exports a wide variety of silks to western Europe and the United States, especially as exclusive furnishing fabrics. Boutiques and fashion houses, designers and interior decorators have the advantage of getting custom-woven fabrics in the designs, weaves and colours of their choice. A service that ensures an exclusive product not easily copied by competitors.
Weaving in Assam is so replete with artistic sensibility and so intimately linked to folk life that Gandhiji, during his famous tour to promote khadi and swadeshi, was so moved that he remarked: "Assamese women weave fairy tales in their clothes!"
Almost as precious as Assam’s exotic silks – eri, muga and paat – are delicate tribal weaves such as Mirijim on blankets, mattresses and floor coverings (of Majuli and north-eastern Assam), shawls of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao district, Lasingphee blankets of bamboo and cotton in southern Assam’s Cachar district.
The expertise of Bodo and Rabha women too are evident in their distinctive motifs and colour schemes.