When it comes to symbolic significance, no artefact in Assam can beat the gamusa—a white rectangular piece of cloth with red border on three sides and woven patterns or motifs of the same colour on the other.
A symbol of Assamese culture, it literally means towel or a piece of cloth to wipe the body—ga (body), musa (wipe). The gamusa (also spelt as gamosa), nevertheless, has transcended beyond the mundane to occupy an exalted place.
Unfortunately, its exalted status has failed to translate into economic gains for thousands of families who weave it.
“The cheaper variant imported from other states such as Gujarat and Tamil Nadu are flooding the markets, posing a threat to local artisans,” rued Hiralal Kalita, the secretary of the Sualkuchi Tant Silpa Unnayan Samiti, a weavers’ association.
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