Bamboo base craft is now mainly a household industry and occupies an important place among the handicrafts of the State. It provides a subsidiary occupation to the cultivators and full-time occupation to the highly skilled artisans who produce only fine decorative baskets, furniture and mats, etc. on commercial scale.
The making of bamboo products is mainly a rural industry. It is commonly pursued by the agriculturists in their spare time as a subsidiary occupation. Its heavy concentration in the rural areas may primarily be attributed to the availability of bamboos in the villages and the very high demand for various bamboo products, such as, mats, baskets, fishing contraptions, etc., in every rural household. The essential equipment’s required for the industry are dao and knife which are invariably found in every family. The manufacturing activities are generally carried out outdoor and all the members of the family, both male and female, take part in it. However, the male members of the family predominate. Most of the products, manufactured in such household, are meant for domestic use and only a small percentage of the products are sold in the markets. The professional artisans who follow this trade as a whole-time occupation sell their products in the markets.
‘Jaapi’, the headgear which is produced on commercial scale, are of various designs and sizes. The Jaapis ornamented and embroidered with different designs were indicative of the dignity and social status of those who used them in the past. Although use of such Jaapis is no longer in vogue now, the embroidered and ornamented Jaapis are still considered as precious possession by the rich and poor alike. Many varieties of 'Jaapis' such as 'Halua Jaapi, Pitha Jaapi', Sorudoiya Jaapi, 'Bordoiya Jaapi', 'Can Jaapi; etc., are produced in the undivided districts of Nalbari, Kamrup, Nagaon, Darrang, Sivasagar and Lakhimpur. Nalbari and its neighbouring villages such as Kamarkuchi, Mughkuchi, etc., deserve special mention in respect of manufacturing of 'Phulam Jaapis' (decorated bamboo umbrellas). A village named Japisagia situated at a distance of about 5 kms. from Tezpur in Sonitpur district is famous for Jaapi production. In the Nagaon district, the best Jaapis are made at Kandali, Uriagaon, Jagi and Kathiatoli.
Bamboo mats of various types are also manufactured on a commercial basis in the undivided districts of Nagaon, Darrang and Cachar. Large scale commercial production is reported from Karimganj district where mats are locally known as 'dhara', jharia or darma and thousands of people are engaged in this craft. In the district of Karbi-Anglong (Bokajan), Nagaon (Phokoligaon), Goalpara (Borbila) and Barpeta (Koyakuchi) such mats are produced from Bamboo. Bamboo mats are extensively used for various purposes like construction of temporary walls and sheds, big pandals, roofing of country boats, dwelling houses, screens, etc. Besides domestic uses, mats are also being used for manufacturing of Bamboo mat ply board. The other marketable product is ‘Murrha’ which is extensively found in Nagaon, Goalpara and Karbi-Anglong district.
The making of cane products is an important and growing cottage industry of the State which abounds in cane. Extrication of the thorny cane from the thick jungles is a difficult task. The forest authorities grant leases to the Mahaldars to extricate cane from forests. The tolls and implements required for the industry are mainly dao and knife and it is an only in the making of furniture that few hummers, pliers or princes, etc., are required. The industry requires a certain amount of skill even in producing articles of day to day use but the production of the furniture and other products of artistic value calls for a high degree of skill. In the manufacture of cane furniture, undivided Cachar district enjoys a special advantage over other districts of the State in so far as skilled artisans are concerned. The craft has commercial production in almost all the important urban areas of the State and produces various types of furniture and sundry articles like boxes, cradles, cane-stool (murrha), office trays, tiffin baskets, bottle carriers, bicycle baskets, waste paper baskets, cane chairs, Sofa, etc.
The potentiality of making bamboo and cane products on commercial basis is quite considerable in the State. There is a good demand for its products within and outside the country.
‘Sitalpati’, a kind of mat, is perhaps the most notable and popular product among the handicrafts of Assam. Unlike other kinds of mat woven in North-East India, Sitalpati is more expensive. The word 'Sital-pati' means coolmat. The makers are usually Kayasthas in caste, not a traditional craftspeople caste. The raw material is the Murta cane (Marantadichotomus). The murta plant grows, on marshy and water-logged areas and is found in abundance in choked up tanks and damp hill slopes. The production of Sitalpatiis purely a household industry. Generally, men prepare the cane slips, while women do the weaving work. The highest concentration of artisans pursuing this craft is noticed in the district of Cahar, Karimganj and Goalpara. The villages renowned for the production of Sitalpatiare Katakhal, Kaliganj, Karimpur, Basigram, Sridurgapur in Barak valley and Dubapara in Goalpara district.
There are 480 units undertaking cane and bamboo works in 26 districts of Assam with an investment of Rs.371.34 lakh, employing 2212 people.
Where to buy Cane and Bamboo products from?
Cane and Bamboo products are available across the state and outside Assam due to its rising demand. You can purchase Cane and Bamboo products online from various shopping websites. Still if you happen to be in Guwahati, find below the list of places to buy Cane and Bamboo products from:
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