Textiles

Guwahati is known for its rare and exclusive Muga silk, which is produced from the Antheraea assamensis silkworm, found only in Assam. Muga silk sarees are known for their fine texture and durability and every time you wash them, their natural yellow gold lustre increases! The silk is also used to make mekhela chador, the traditional attire of Assamese women. Stores in Guwahati house a great collection of Muga silk sarees.

Textiles

Sattriya Dance

Considered as the pride of Assam, the Sattriya dance is one of the eight classical dance forms of the country and involves beautiful hand and eye movements. Guwahati is home to world renowned Sattriya artistes, who narrate mythological tales through their mesmerising dance performances. The music used for the dance performances is based on classical ragas and is popularly known as 'borgeets'.  The Sattriya dance is also performed by monks in monasteries on a daily basis. Guwahati has a large number of training institutes that teach this amazing dance form and if you are visiting the city for a longer time period, you must try your hand at learning the dance from  skilled artists. 

Sattriya Dance

Metal Crafts

Metal crafts and products are a speciality of Assam. Their style and durability make them coveted among travellers and locals. The skilled artists of Assam design beautiful utensils using brass and bell metal. Some of the products that you can buy besides utility items are xorai and bota, which are used to offer paans and betel nut to guests during festivals and special occasions. During the times of the Ahom rulers (1228-1826), craftsmen used gold and silver to create ethnic products.

Metal Crafts

Masks

Popularly known as mukhas in the local language, masks are an integral part of Assam's culture and tradition, which are mostly used during folk theatre performances based on tribal folktales. Generally made from terracotta, metal, bamboo, pith and wood, the beautifully designed masks usually depict local deities and characters from Hindu epics like the Mahabharata and Ramayana. The masks are divided into three categories on the basis of their size. These are Cho mask, Lotokoi mask and Mukh mask. For the rural population of the state, mask-making serves as a means of livelihood and the craft is followed by craftsmen from all communities. Making a mask takes around 10 to 15 days during which the craftsmen make the frame using bamboo strips and then paste layers of clay-soaked clothes before leaving them to dry under the sun. Once dry, the masks are painted in bright colours.
Popularly known as mukhas in the local language, masks are an integral part of Assam's culture and tradition, which are mostly used during folk theatre performances based on tribal folktales. Generally made from terracotta, metal, bamboo, pith and wood, the beautifully designed masks usually depict local deities and characters from Hindu epics like the Mahabharata and Ramayana. The masks are divided into three categories on the basis of their size. These are Cho mask, Lotokoi mask and Mukh mask. For the rural population of the state, mask-making serves as a means of livelihood and the craft is followed by craftsmen from all communities. Making a mask takes around 10 to 15 days during which the craftsmen make the frame using bamboo strips and then paste layers of clay-soaked clothes before leaving them to dry under the sun. Once dry, the masks are painted in bright colours.

Masks

Japi

One of the most famous momentos of Assam that tourists like to take back with them is the Japi hat or headgear, which makes for a great wall decoration item as well. The conical Japi hat holds immense importance in the Assamese culture and it is presented to all dignitaries and eminent personalities visiting the state. This colourful large-sized hat was once used by farmers and cowherds and used to protect them from the scorching sun and rain. Japis are of two types: while the bigger Haaluwa Japi is usually worn by farmers, the Gorokhiya Japi is smaller in size and is worn by cowherds. The headgear is also worn by the Bihu dancers of Assam apart from being used in religious activities. Colourful pieces of fabrics are stitched together to decorate the Japi hats, which are a must buy item during a trip to Assam.

Japi

Bihu Folk Music

Bihu songs are the most famous among music lovers in Assam and are based on themes like Assamese new year, farmers' daily life, love and more. Bihu music is played with instruments like dhol, mohor singor pepe, cymbal, a bamboo instrument called gogona and a clapper made from bamboo known as toka. The Bihu music is reflective of the oriental influence on Assam's folk music. It is an absolute delight to sit and listen to heart-touching Bihu songs during the Bihu festival when the entire state is in a celebratory mood. The talented musicians of the state have been following this traditional form of music since generations and listening to them sing in joy is an unmatched experience for every tourist.

Bihu Folk Music

Barpeta�s Bhortal Nritya

One of the most energetic dance forms of the Northeast, Assam's Barpeta bhortal nritya is a must-watch. It is a magical experience, wherein artistes execute neat and expressive moves, while letting their expressions convey intense emotions. The dancers perform to the signature Zhiya Nom beats, which are complemented by the fast-paced use of cymbals. Six to eight performers make a beautiful formation in this dance form that is practised mainly on special occasions. It was founded by the renowned Satriya artist, Narahari Burha Bhakat.

Barpeta�s Bhortal Nritya

Cane and Bamboo

Some of the most commonly used materials for daily life objects in Assam include cane and bamboo, which are found in abundance in the state. Skilled artists make a wide range of products using cane and bamboo like household articles, baskets and musical instruments. Bamboo is also used in constructing houses and fences in Assam. The craftsmen use no mechanical devices to create different products from cane and bamboo and all the items are handmade. Cane and bamboo are also used to make weaving accessories. Tourists should definitely check out beautiful cane and bamboo products at the handicraft stores in Guwahati and nearby areas.

Cane and Bamboo

Bihu Dance

One cannot describe Assam without talking about the world famous Bihu dance, which has become the identity of the northeastern state. Performed mostly during the annual Bihu festival celebrated around April, it is Assam's most popular folk dance. Performed by both men and women, this cheerful dance sees participants clad in traditional attires.

The dancers sway their bodies gracefully to the rhythm of folk music, which leaves the audiences entertained and enchanted. Bihu dance has been an integral part of the culture of the various ethnic groups in Assam like the Deoris, Sonowal Kacharis, Moran, Borahis and others. Out of the three Bihu festivals in the state namely Rongali Bihu, Kongali Bihu and Bhogal Bihu, the dance is performed by young men and women during the Rongali Bihu to express their joy on the arrival of the spring. According to Assamese history, the first ever Bihu dance performance was done in 1694 when the Ahom king Rudra Singha (1696-1714) invited Bihu dancers on the special occasion of Rongali Bihu.

Bihu Dance