Silk, known as “The Queen of Textiles”, has been providing livelihood opportunities
for millions all over the world. The very nature of this industry, sericulture and silk, with its rural based on-farm and off-farm activities has brought to it recognition by planners and policy makers as among one of the most appropriate avenues for socio-economic development of a largely agrarian economy like India.
Noting its cultural significance, NESFAS sought to promote the practice in collaboration with weaving communities and Carol Cassidy, an experienced weaver and founder of Lao Textiles. Her work with indigenous communities all over the world in the area of revival and promotion of traditional weaving practices gave NESFAS the confidence to take the project up.
Meghalaya produces three out of the four varieties of silk available in the world. They are – Eri; locally known as Ryndia, Muga and Mulberry. The Eri worm is reared not merely for silk production but also for its food value. The cocoon of an Eri worm is more resilient than the other varieties.
The Ri –Bhoi District is one of the main regions of Meghalaya where Eri-culture and Handloom Weaving is still practiced. It has a long tradition and is part of the culture and heritage of the community. Eri-culture goes hand in hand with preserving the forest eco-system and encouraging the growing of plants that are used for dyeing the fabric and feeding the worms.
NESFAS is currently working with weavers with the support of experts to produce high quality stoles that will be showcased during the Indigenous Terra Madre 2015.