Murshidabad is a place of historic importance situated on the southern bank of River Bhagirathi. It was the last capital of Independent Bengal from 1717 to 1773 when the East India Company shifted its capital to Kolkata. The present city is renowned for its silks and places of historical interest. It also serves as the district head quarters of Murshidabad district.
Tussar Silk is produced from silkworms. It is also known as Tusser, Tushar and Tussah and the sarees made from this particular silk is very popular in India. Its popularity is due to the gold sheen and has shorter fibres. It is the chosen material for saris and also punjabis for Indian men. The gold sheen makes it appear rich textured and also shimmering. Bulk production is Tussar silk is done in India out of which around 40% is from West Bengal. The tussar silk sarees produced in Bankura are famous for their kantha stitch which is a particular type of stitching process done by hand instead of machines. Kantha stitched silk sarees are quite expensive and exquisite. Tussar silk sarees are available in various beautiful colors. Tussar silk is also used to make punjabis for men and salwar suits for ladies. These traditional apparels also appear beautiful made from this silk. Producing Tussar silk is considered to be a cottage industry in Bankura where a large number of handlooms are found. This is a tradition of Bankura and thus the weavers still maintain the conventional handloom process to produce the silk sarees. Tussar Silk is also known by another name which is Kosa Silk. Tussar Silk clothes are exported to Gulf countries, to the USA and also various European countries.
Some of the characteristic features of Tussar Silk are:
- Various natural shades
- Light and airy
- Provides a comfortable and cool feeling
- Rich coarse texture
- Delicate in nature
Maintaining Tussar Silk
Maintaining tussar silk clothes takes a little caring. Dry washing the clothes is the safest option so that it retains its natural texture. You can also use cold water for clothes other than sarees to wash off the dirt. But remember to wash it with gentle hands since it’s delicate. Avoid using chemical bleach and never dry in directly under the sun. Silk needs to breathe and hence you must not store in inside paper. Fold it nicely and store it. Some of the most popular colors in tussar silk are magenta, red, turquoise, gold, dark teal, ultramine, chocolate and purple.
The Bishnupur region in Bankura is famous for producing Baluchari sarees that are made from tussar silk with particular types distinct of patterns on them. Woven on Jacquard punch-card looms, the Baluchari sarees have pallus and borders with episodes from Mahabharata woven on them. These exclusive sarees woven by the weavers are beautiful specimens of traditional art. However, making Baluchari sarees entail a lengthy process. The silk strands are separately dyed and put in a loom after which punch cards hanging from the upper part of the loom are used to make the designs on the strands. The punch cards shave holes in them and are rectangular in shape with various designs on them. The dyed strands are made to pass through these holes and accumulate into precise forms on the loom making some of the most desirable sarees made from silk.
Image Source: Flickr
Murshidabad is a tourist destination of great historical significance. Once the seat of the Nawabs of West Bengal, Murshidabad still has that old charm and grandeur. Art and craft in Murshidabad is an integral part of the lives of the residents. The craftsmen of this district of Bengal are extremely skilled and different types of art and craft is practiced in the region.
Ivory and wood Craft
The first is the Ivory and wood craft which spans throughout Murshidabad and is considered to be an industry employing a large number of the residents. This craft dates back to the time of Nawabs in Bengal where the courts used to be beautifully embellished with ivory and wood items. In those times this industry ran under the patronization of the Nawabs and also the noblemen of the court. In the past the carvers of Murshidabad were deemed to be the best with masterpieces that were displayed in the museums across the world. The industry has however faced decline over the last few decades. You can still find some nicely carved objects near Khagra bazaar.
The Sholapith or the Indian cork craft has sustained in Murshidabad and you will get some excellent pieces of art on the items made from shola. Sholapith is basically sponge-wood milky white in color. It is soft and delicate in nature. Beautiful items are made from this wood which has a diameter of 1.5 inches and grows in the marsh lands of Murshidabad. Sholapith is extremely malleable, spongy and light. Its brilliant luster and texture makes it perfect for lovely handicraft items to enhance your home décor. This wood is specially used for making the head gear of the Bengali brides during wedding ceremonies. However, the best specimens of sholapith items can be seen during Durga Puja, one of the most elaborate ceremonies of the Bengalis where the Goddess appears beautiful with sholapith huge backdrops and also with sholapith jewelry items. All these pieces are carefully strewn by the craftsmen with intricate designs on them. Every piece appears special. Floral motifs are popular among the sholapith designs. Peacocok boats, palanquins and garlands are also common.
Bell metal or Kansa
Bell metal works or Kansa as the Bengalis refer to it is another popular craft practiced by the skilled craftsmen of Murshidabad. It is a traditional craft basically used to make utensils and are manufactured in large quantities in Kandi, Baranagar, Berhampore and Khagra. Iron chests, betelnut cutters and locks of superlative quality are also manufactured in these areas. There is a tradition of giving bell metal utensils as gifts to a bride during wedding. It is considered to be auspicious.
Production of murshidabad silk and making sarees and other silk garments is a huge industry in Murshidabad. The clothes especially sarees are in high demand in the local, national and also international markets. The Baluchar town in Murchidabad produces the famous Baluchari sarees which are gorgeous to look at. Rich in composition, these sarees have silk brocaded designs on a silk base with lovely colors. Floral motifs along with scenes from daily life are popular and also colors like scarlet, green, yellow and blue are preferred by women. Know More →
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Pallab Seth, Jyoti Prakash Bhattacharjee, Viejito, Srikanth S