Origin: Existence of the 100 year old Sikki grass craft is a mystery. Traditionally, it used to be one of the five craft skills that would raise the bride’s demand. As these crafts were an integral element of the dowry from the girl’s side. Considered auspicious by the natives, there’s no ritual in Bihar were it’s not taken into account. Moosahar tribe’s only festival – Sailesh puja- calls for a wide spectrum of vibrant Sikki products. Sikki handicrafts display an epitome of rich tradition and culture of Bihar exhibiting fine craftsmanship and scintillating design.
Present Day: Craft Research Institute has played a significant role in encouraging village women to craft Sikki products commercially. Villagers earn their bread by selling these handicrafts. The complete family is involved in daily weaving of grass to make different items.
Pauthi, woven baskets, are used to exchange wedding gifts, essential items such as boxes, toys, jewelry and murals are still crafted out of this grass. Fascinatingly, this grass is sold on a fistful basis.
Procedure: The golden tinted grass used is a wild seasonal grass and it grows only in marshy areas or land close to water bodies. This is seasonal grass and is harvested during rainy season. There is a local tribe called ‘Amas’ that takes care of harvesting and processing. Harvesting and processing is done once the grass reaches the adequate height. Then, the grass is cut from base and dried under the sun.
The other two raw materials used in manufacturing Sikki products are Munj and Kharare. Munj is comparatively cheaper and stiffer raw material. Munj is used to give structural strength to Sikki products. For Sikki products, Munj is bent to create the basic structure, and then grass is coiled around it. For colours, Sikki laces are dyed in different dyes. The Munj structure is important to create and start the Sikki product. Then there is a tool called Takua which is a long needle that helps in weaving the Sikki. Choori (knife) and Kaichi (scissors) are used to split the grass. The craft of Sikki weaving is very traditional and has its roots tied to rituals. These Sikki handicrafts are very lightweight, organic, biodegradable and durable.
It has a huge demand overseas and is exported to over 100 nations, a few of them are U.K, Germany, Netherland, Italy, France and Gulf Countries etc.
Bring Home Sikki Handicrafts: Tourist buy these handicrafts from a lot of local shops as souvenirs and these are also sold in local fairs.