Indian Museum is indeed privileged to publish the monograph entitled ‘Textile Tradition of Assam: Collection of Purbajyoti Sangrahalaya’ complied by Sri Goutam Sharma and smt. Julie Baroah as a part of the development activities in the museums of the North Eastern State with the financial assistance of the Department of Culture, Govt. of India. Even though Assam has rich textile tradition, there has always been dearth of a comprehensive compendium on the subject. The present compilation grew out of the constant efforts of Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra, Guwahati, Assam to collect document, disseminate and promote the art of textile tradition of the region.
The monograph contains an introductory chapter dealing with three aspects, (i) Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra: An overview, (ii) The Textile tradition of India and (iii) The textile tradition of Assam. The author have delved deep into the subject and have made use of all available source-materials in a very meticulous and authentic manner in dealing with the historical accounts regarding the growth and development of the textile traditions specially of the state of North eastern India including Assam. We think that such account in brief will help the readers in their subject with introduction.
The most valuable portion of the book is the comprehensive and classified list of textiles, accessories, household items likewise with the printed illustrations of each and every item which is now housed and displayed in the Purbajyoti Sangrahalaya of Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalashetra, Guwahati. The with illustrations and textual description covers the tradition costumes and other accessories of more than thirty communities of Assam and adjoining state which include the Baites, Bhutias, Bodos. Chowtals, Chutias, Deoris, Dimasas, Garos, Goalparias, Hajongs, Hmars, Hrangkhals. Jayantias, Karbis, Khamtis, Khasis, Khelmas, Kukis, Manipuris, Mizos, Nagas, Nepalis, Rabhas, Singphos, Tai-Aitons, Tai-Khamyangs, Tai-Phakes. Tai-Shyams, Tai-Turungs, Tiwas, Vaipheis and other tea planting communities besides the non-tribal general Assamese people.
We are thankful to the author for their painstaking, elaborate and Scholarly efforts made in preparing this highly informative monograph which we feel will be of great use for the general readers, researchers, scholars and students alike.
Even though Assam has a rich textile tradition, there has always been a dearth of a comprehensive book on the textile tradition of Assam. The present book grew out of the efforts of Srimanta ‘Sankaradeva Kalakshetra to collect, document, disseminate and promote the textile tradition of the region.
Then the scope of this project has grown over the years. The journey begun by unrevealing the ‘what’, ‘who’, ‘why’, and ‘how’ of the textile tradition of Assam and the significant place it occupies in the socio-cultural and economic life of the people.
Some tradition are lost and some are in the verge of being extinct in every passing day in the want of patrons and a ready market. Thus the preservation of the textile items of the various communities of the state became one of the primary objectives of Srimantna Sankaradeva Kalakshetra.
People from every community were contacted and the Srimant sankaradeva Kalakshetra team visited their habitats and collected their traditional costumes and textiles as well the unique motifs and designs with zeal and passion. Care has been taken the collection representative.
The traditional costumes of more than thirty communities of the state were covered including the baites, Bhutias, Bodos, Chowtals, Chutias, Deoris, Dimasas, Garos, Goalparias, Hajongs,Hrangkhals, Jyantias, Karbis, Khamtis, Khasis, Khelmas, Kukis, Manipuris, Mishnigs, Mizos, Nagas, Nepalis, Rabhas, singphos, Tai- Aitons, tai-Khamyangs, tai-Phakes, Tai-Shyams, tai-tyurungs, tea communities, Tiwas, Vaipheis besides the general non-tribal Assamese community.
Apart from the costumes, the collection comprises accessories like belts, bags, etc and household items like bed sheets, curtins, altar covers, blanket, etc.
And over a short period of time the textile collection of Purbajyoti Sangrahalay became voluminous numbering more than six hundred items.
Apart from these, a major part of the textile collection of the Purbajyoti Sangrahalaya belongs to Industries Musueum of the Department of Industry. Assam which grew out of the collective Zeal of several British dignitaries including Mr. T.T.S. Haley and Mrs. Haley. This includes the traditional costumes, rare designs and intricate weaving pattems and techniques which would otherwise sunk into oblivion.
Both these collection give a wide glimpse of the textiles of Assamacross time and space. Material-wise, the collection comprises textiles made of muga, paat, endi and cotton. All these arranged according to the different communities in this present book.
Srimants Sankaradeval Kalakshetra has also taken steps of both preventive and curative conservation of this collection Each and every textile item is fumigated and the curative conservation methods like darning and backing is being done as and when required.
It was decided that a complete floor of the Purbajyoti Sangrahalaya be dedicated to the textile of the region. The second floor of the Purbajyotui Sangrahalaya is a celebration of this age old textile tradition of the region. It houses the representative collection of the textile items made and use by the different ethnic groups mentioned above. Life-sized models of the various ethnic communities draped with respective traditional attires are placed in 13 dioramas depicting the context or the immediate environment of the communities Apart from these, textile pieces are displayed in several showcases.
This repository would be a ready reference source of the traditional textiles of different communities of Assam and would strive to be a great help to students, designers, researchers as well the general connoisseurs.
This book, despite all the shortcomings, that may remain even after the best of our efforts, will sincerely try to bridge the gap and bring alive the textile heritage if Assam. It would be a celebration of the weavers of Assam and given a glimpse of her culture, her world and her decorm.
The present book would not been possible without the sincere help and cooperation from various quarters.
We would like to thank the donors of the various ethnic groups of Assam who unrelentingly gave us their valuable time and helped in collecting the various costumes and textile items for the Purbajyoti Sangrahalaya. Their help and cooperation are a great contribution in building up the voluminous textile collection of this museum, identifying and documenting them.
We would like to first Museum Advisory Committee for the support it rendered for the successful execution of the book.
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