Development of Bamboo and Cane Culture in ASSAM Introduction Assam is one of the richest state in India in source of bamboos and canes of various species. Bamboo is a raw material of great flexibility and forms of the fundamental parts of the lifestyle and culture of Assam. Extensive use of wood over the ages for furniture and other products has challenged the environment more than ever before. The population of trees and forests is ever receding. This increasing need for wood has been beautifully supplemented by cane and bamboo.
These eco-friendly products are light in weight and have their own style and elegance. Mizo Hills, Cachar, Mikir and North Cachar Hills, Nowgong and Lakhimpur districts are richest are in availability of raw materials for Bamboo and Cane Culture of Assam. The manufacturing or production of bamboo and cane products is perhaps the most universal of all the crafts practiced by a large number of artisans scattered throughout the State. This industry has shaped for itself an important place among the handicrafts of the State.
It provides part time employment to the cultivators in their spare time, and full time employment to the few highly skilled artisans who produce only fine decorative baskets, furniture and mats on a commercial basis. Almost 51% species of bamboo grow in Assam and they are being used for diverse purposes, mainly for buildings, furniture and diverse contraptions. History of Cane and Bamboo It is assumed that the craft was practiced since the misty past with the very dawn of civilization. In the early period in Assam, bamboo was held with special reference and is forbidden to cut in “auspicious days”.
It is a general belief that bamboo possesses auspicious character and is of religious significance. An idea about the developing state of cane and bamboo products of Assam was fond even during the time of Bhaskara Varman (early part of the 7th century A. D. ), the king of Assam, may be had from the following extract. (An extract from “The History of Civilization of the People of Assam” by Dr P. C. Chouudhury. ) Earlier well-decorated and coloured sital patis (cool mats) used by the rich people. Mats were usually made of cane.
The classical writers testify the abundance of cane in the forests of Assam. There were hills and marshes in Assam where canes were grown and used as bridges. Evidence of the production of other cane articles is also supplied by the ‘Harshacharita’, which mentions stools of cane. The cultivation of bamboo and its use for various purposes are well known. Bana again testifies to this highly developed craft. He states that Bhaskara sent to Harsha ‘baskets of variously coloured reeds’, ‘thick bamboo tubes’ and various birds in ‘bamboo cages’.
Community and Caste involved in making It is assumed that there is no particular caste or community in the Assam Valley who are exclusively connected with this traditional craft. It is generally carried on by all, particularly the peasants irrespective of caste, community or creed. Manufacturing of Products Bamboo: Assam is one of the richest state in maximum resources of cane and bamboo industry. Almost 51% species of bamboo grow in Assam and they are being used for diverse purposes, mainly for buildings, furniture and diverse contraptions.
Bamboo is also used for umbrella handles, walking sticks, tool handles, fishing rods, tent poles, cordage, ladders, yokes, baskets, toys, hand-fans and various domestic and agricultural implements. All these articles can be produced on a cottage and small-scale basis with small machineries. Presently, there are vast untapped resources of bamboo that can open avenues for utilization of bamboo for many productive works. The prospects of establishment of several pulp and paper plants, big and small, on bamboo alone, is tremendous.
Apart from forests, bamboo is also plentiful in the villages throughout the State. | | Even though Assam has been traditionally rich in bamboo, bamboo craft from Assam do not figure prominently in the handicraft market of India and Assam’s share in the export trade is negligible. Cane Many cottage and small-scale industries in Assam are dependent on the supply of different kinds of cane and reeds. It is observed that generally three species of cane are exploited in commercial quantities- Jati (Calamus tenuis), Tita (Calamus leptesadix) and Lejai (Calamus floribundus).
Some less important qualities like Sundi (Calamus garuba) and Raidang (Calamus flagellum) are also extracted. There are several varieties of bamboo and cane used for manufacturing of different products. A kind of muli bamboo locally known as ‘muli bazail’ is used for making umbrella handles. Two other varieties of bamboo locally known as ‘Mrithinga’ and ‘Bethua’ and different varieties of canes locally known as ‘sundi’, ‘barjali’, ‘harua’, ‘golla’ etc. are required for making furniture and baskets.
For manufacture of ‘japis’ (umbrella), a type of palm leaves locally known as “tokow pat” are used. A ‘fulam japi’ (decorated bamboo umbrella) requires, besides palm leaves, coloured wool, cotton, dyed yarn, mica, etc. for colouring and varnishing of their products, the artisans use the following materials- ‘bhatar phen’ (boiled rice juice), ‘amrapata’ (Hibicus Subdariffa), ‘tamarind leaves’, mezenta (a kind of chemical dye stuff), kalabati chach (lac) resin, methylated spirit, rabi mustafi, etc. Tools and Machines Used in Manufacturing
In the sphere of bamboo and cane works simple and inexpensive used across the state. The essential tools required for bamboo craft consists of a ‘dao’ (bill-hook), a knife and a ‘jak’ (‘v’ shaped wooden frame). In manufacturing cane products also, ‘daos’ and knives are mainly used, and only the furniture making establishments use a few saws, hammers, pliers and pincers in addition to daos and knives. The tools and implements used in the craft are ‘bakai kol’ (bending frame), ‘narum’ (sharp and pointed carving blade), files, saws, knives, blowpipes, tongs, oven, etc.
Products and Production Process Various types of cane and bamboo products are found in this state. The people of the plains and hills districts of Assam have their own bamboo and cane products with distinctive features and typical designs. The products of the plain districts differ from that of the hill districts in use, shape and design. It is found that a variety of products like bamboo mats, sital pati, baskets of various sizes and shapes, winnowing trays, sieves, japi or chatta, various types of fishing implements, etc. re manufactured in large numbers in the plains districts of the state. The cane and bamboo products used for domestic purposes are prepared in every nook and corner of the state out of split bamboo and fine flexible cane strips. Goods produced from cane and bamboo have a distinct advantage over other materials like wood and steel. The range of products produced from cane include sofa sets, chairs of different shapes and types like easy chairs, arm chairs, rocking chairs, dining chairs, tables of different types like side tables, central tables and basket wares for different uses.
The products produced from cane and bamboo have great demand all over the world for hotels, hospitals, casinos, clubs etc. because of their light weight, comfort and low price. Bamboo Musical Instruments Flute is a commonly used musical instruments made out of bamboo. Besides this, other musical instruments like bamboo beater, do-tara etc. , are used in the Bihu festival of Assam. “Gogona” is another musical instrument shaped from a thick bamboo outer split, so that one end forms the handle while the other end can be struck by fingers when the instrument is held against the mouth.
Folk Medicines from Bamboo Name of Medicines| Medicine used for| Fresh Cuts| Greenish portion of the bamboo stem is grounded and made into a paste for application over the fresh cut area. It usually serves as an antiseptic and acts fast in the wound healing process. | Early Diabetes| Water collected inside the bamboo stem when taken relieves the disease considerably. | Toothache| Toothache is relieved by heating young bamboo twigs and applying over it. | Loose Tooth| The sticky juice that comes out from burning dried bamboo is applied on the root of the tooth to make it firmer. Hypertension| White part of the mew bamboo leaf is to be taken on empty stomach early in the morning, which helps to control hypertension. | Dandruff| The ash of clump sheath of bamboo is effective for removing dandruff. | Body pain| Sleeping in a bed made of whole bamboo relieves body ache. | Chicken pox, Small pox and Ulcers| Dried young bamboo shoot is to be grounded and taken with cooked Catfish which helps in early healing of chicken pox, small pox and ulcers. | Giddiness and Chronic Pain| Curd prepared with young bamboo shoots taken with black pepper relieves giddiness and chronic pain. Headache and Sinusitis| Dried bamboo burnt and the inhaling of the smoke of the bamboo relieves headache and sinusitis. | Number of Handicraft Units and Artisans in Assam according to 1995-96 census Classified under Craft Groups Major Craft Group| No. of units| No. of Artisans| Textiles| 20,709| 68,658| Carpets| 27| 80| Other Floor Coverings| 122| 355| Other Textiles| 20,560| 68,223| Cane & Bamboo| 5,031| 16,449| Wood| 1,090| 3,425| Metal| 1,679| 5,964| Stone| 2| 6| Straw, Grass, Fibre & Leaf| 147| 507| Glass| 5| 13| Clay & Ceramics| 1,350| 4,336|
Ivory, Bone, Horn & Shells| 1| 1| Leather| 79| 243| Data source : Office of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), North Eastern Region, Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India Number of Handicraft Units and Artisans in Assam in according to 1995-96 census Type of units| Number of units| Number of artisans| Household| 29,816| 97,363| Non Household| 544| 3,119| Total| 30,360| 1,00,482| Rural areas| 28,103| 92,665| Urban areas| 2,257| 7,817| Data source : Office of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), North Eastern Region, Ministry of Textiles, Govt. f India Industry development opportunity The main raw materials for the industry, i. e. bamboo and cane of various types are abundantly available throughout the State. It requires little or no investment and can be pursued by anybody and everybody of a household as a subsidiary occupation. As such, the industry has considerable scope for development and various new products suited to modern tastes can be manufactured out of bamboo and cane. Market intelligence is required to be developed so that products can be made to cater to the need of the consumer market.
State Governments Emporia are also trying to popularize a few artistic and decorative cane and bamboo products outside the State To organize the unorganized and scattered handicraft artisans, the Government of Assam had launched a scheme for registration of handicraft artisans and handicrafts units. Name: Prakashraj P. Kumavat Designation:Assistant Professor Institute:Sarvoday College of Management & Tech. (MBA) Limbdi-Dhandhuka State Highway, Limbdi Surendranagar Contact No. :+91-9978440833 Email :prakashrajkumavat@gmail. com Address (Home):15/B, Kalyan Nagar Society O/s. Shahpur Gate, Shahpur Ahmedabad-380004.