Muga Silk and Assam has been in existence since time immemorial. Though there are no definitive records or journals mentioning the origin of Muga Silk in Assam, it is generally believed that it was during the time of Ahom Dynasty (1228 to 1828) that Muga Silk was woven in the socio-economic fabric of the state. Due to unhindered patronage of the Ahom kings, the Muga Silk rearers and weavers came into prominence, became skilled and prospered.

Muga is one of the rarest silks in the world. Due to its golden nature, it has now come to be known as the Golden Silk of Assam as it is found only in the state. These silkworms have been in existence since prehistoric times. The silkworms are very delicate and cannot withstand the minimum pollution levels, thus making it very rare. The silk fibre is a very strong organic natural fibre and is derived from semi cultivated silkworms named Antheraea assamensis. One of the most significant properties of the fabric is its longevity as it has been seen time and again to outlive the wearer thus making it an heirloom piece for every owner.

The Ahom Dynasty was established in Assam with the invasion of Tai-Ahoms in 1228 A.D. During the supremacy of the Ahom rulers, the silk industry of Assam and especially the Muga Silk received encouragement from the Royal Dynasty as it was perceived as the royal fabric. During the rule of Ahoms elaborate arrangements were made for keeping in the royal store’s sufficient quantities of muga silk clothes of different varieties for presentation to foreign courts and dignitaries. Master weavers, mostly women, were brought in from various parts of the state to weave the fabric and garments. Scarcity of looms gave way to development of indigenous weavers in the state who used to weave exclusively for the royal family. A definitive development in the socio-economic structure through such initiatives further increased the rearing of silkworms and weavers in the state. The Ahom ruler’s encouragement and patronage to the Muga Silk industry paved the way for muga silk spinning and weaving to become a household indispensable profession in Assam. 

Cultivated mostly in the Garo hills of Assam, the muga silk is extracted from the cocoons of Antheraea assamensis. It is wild in variety and fed on som, sualu, mejankari, pan-chapa tree leaves. Depending on the season, it acquires a rich golden yellow or light brown colour. Typically, it takes about 1000 cocoons to produce 125 grams of silk and about 1000 grams of silk for one saree. The average production per acre of land is 400 grams of silk. Once the yarn is derived, it is then sold to various places or clusters where in the golden silk is woven into the traditional garment of Assam – The Mekhala Chador. Notable cluster in weaving in Assam is the Sualkuchi Textile Park. 

The Golden Silk or Muga silk is known world over for its unique properties like natural golden brilliance, a super fine texture which is resilient, has humidity absorption quality thus having a long shelf life. 

According to a report Muga fabric has the highest tensile strength than other natural silk. Recently there has been a lot of product innovation in muga silk and it is currently seen as a potential raw material for aircraft tires, bulletproof jackets and parachute ropes. This has led to an increased enquiry for supply of Muga silk. Global demand for muga silk has paved its way into the global markets especially in japan where designers are using it to make kimonos and other traditional Japanese dresses.

Today Muga silk is preserved and promoted with a Geographical Indication tag (GI) obtained in 2006. Muga silk or the Golden Silk is one of the most expensive silks in the world and is highly revered by the Assamese population. 

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