Origin: The history of cane and bamboo craft goes back to the 2nd century AD. There are no precise chronicles in the history of Indian craft that talk about the origin, history and genesis of this handicraft. However, it is believed that this craft has existed since the dawn of civilization.
During the early 7th century, cane and bamboo crafts flourished under Bhaskara Verma. This period also holds annals mentioned cane products such as mat and cool mats traditionally addressed as siltal pitas.
Since bygone era, cane and bamboo holds religious significance in the region of Assam. In the olden days, it was forbidden to cut cane and bamboo on auspicious days. Historically, bamboo was also used to cure illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes and ulcers as folk medicine.
Assam houses a wide cultivation of bamboo and cane. Around 38 naturally growing species of bamboos are recorded in Assam. Initially, most of the bamboo and cane craft items were made for utility purposes such as chalani, kula, dukula, khoralu, dhol and doon.
The most common Bamboo craft since time immoral has been baskets. Generally, men of the family indulge in making baskets. The basket size determines its name. The bigger ones are addressed as Duli or Tali and smaller ones as Khorahi. Every tribe has its own signature style for making tribes.
Present Day: Today, bamboo and cane craft provides an employment opportunity to farmers in the off season. Some of the dazzling items crafted from cane and bamboo include baskets, mats, hats, toys and dolls, musical instruments, beer mugs etc.
Even today, in the households of Assam a large percentage of utility products are made from bamboo.
The bamboo and cane handicraft industry contributes immensely to Assam’s economy. The Government has adopted various steps to encourage and preserve this craft. Assam has also opened Bamboo Technology Park with an investment is Rs 62.28 crore in Chaygaon in Industrial Growth Centre.
Procedure: The first step is to chop bamboo poles into small pieces either horizontally and/or vertically. The chopped pieces are then cut vertically into two. Once again, the split halves are split vertically into two forming wachets. Post this, gluey layer on the inner surface is cleaned off. Then, the hard outer layer is scrapped off with Thangjou (Machete). The nodes protruding parts are also removed.
Now, the wachet is divided vertically into two. The split halves of the wachet are again split vertically into two. Each of the four bamboo splits thus formed are referred to as Hanggel Tao. The split halves are once again split into two to form Payashis. Now, all four Payashis is finely knifed uniformly. Post this, the craft is called Paya.
Bring Home Bamboo and Cane Craft of Assam: The go to place for purchasing gorgeous cane and bamboo handicraft items are the Government Emporiums.