A traditional textile forms an indispensable part in giving a unique identity to a region. It also plays an important role in shaping up its culture. Besides being an attribute of identity, a traditional textile of a region is also judged by the way it is manufactured, the type of materials that goes behind its making, the quality of the finished product and, most importantly, how its people look while flaunting it. If a traditional textile is made of superior clothing materials like fine silk or pure cotton and possess intricate kind of designs, it has the capability of attracting international attention and thereby its sales also gets a huge boost which in turn gives a name and fame to the region which gave birth to it. The unique material that goes behind making traditional handloom products are nowadays often used in manufacturing of clothes that are commonly worn by people all over the world so that a region can benefit economically and even earn name and fame globally. For this reason, it is not uncommon to see tunics, tops, shawls, trousers, jackets, shirts , dresses, skirts being manufactured in Indian silks and sold across e-commerce platforms, pop-up shops, exhibitions or in fancy boutiques worldwide. Moreover, the best thing is that most of the western clothes that are made using traditional materials even incorporates the same pretty and unique embroideries and designs in it.
One of the states in India which comprises of multiple kinds of traditional clothes is Jharkhand. Known as the ‘Land of Forest,’ Jharkhand was created as a state on November 15, 2000, from what was previously the southern half of Bihar. Besides its lush green cover, mesmerizing waterfalls, beautiful hills and prominent holy sites, Jharkhand is famous for its diverse tribal culture. There are around 32 tribes in this eastern state of India. Although each tribe has its own set of attires and accessories which they always flaunt with pride, Jharkhand is famous mostly for the production of the finest Tussar silk sarees.
Saree is a timeless piece of exquisite clothing that is worn with pride by every Indian woman irrespective of her age. However, when this nine yard piece of attire is manufactured with high quality silk in bright colours and the level of its elegance is further enhanced by beautiful embroidery, it will surely become a type of treasure for a woman and she will take it out only for wearing on formal occasions. One of the beautiful types of silk handloom products that is produced in wide scale in Jharkhand is the Tussar silk saree. A more special and unique variety of Tussar silk is produced in the Kuchai region that is spread over Seraikela-Kharsawan district in Jharkhand. The Kuchai silk is the first Indian fabric to receive an international organic silk registration. The silk is obtained from a wide winged moth that is yellowish-brown in colour. The scientific name of these moths is Antheraea paphia and its wings are of a rich hue that is further enhanced by circular markings in the form of a mirror. The astounding fact is that if you look closely at these mirror type markings, you will see a reflection of your face in it. The Tussar silk sarees of Jharkhand are known for their bright colours and beautiful prints. One of the prime reasons of the popularity of Tussar silk attires is due to its porousness and breathability which makes it a source of comfort to wear.
Besides sarees, many types of clothes are also produced from Kuchai silk as its organic nature has helped it in gaining high demand in Asian and American countries. Apart from being produced organically, the manufacturing process of Kuchai silk products is also noteworthy as no chemicals are used in any of the stages thereby making it environment friendly. The cocoon of this fine silk grows on Sal and Arjun trees that is found in abundance in the green covers of Jharkhand.
The primary traditional attire for the tribal women of Jharkhand is Panchi and Parhan which is quite similar to the Mekhela Chadar which the main dress of the women of Assam. Panchi is a rectangular piece of ankle length cloth that is draped around the waist and the Parhan is the upper garment which is worn around the upper body. The Parhan is draped around like a saree, with one side covering the left shoulder and the rest of it folded and tucked neatly inside the Panchi. Besides an appropriate blouse, the whole look is often completed with traditional jewellery, bindi and various types of hairstyles. The designs incorporated in Panchi and Parhan often depicts local stories, flora, fauna and symbols of Jharkhand. Meanwhile, this dress code is mostly followed by the Santhals which is one of the most prominent tribal groups of Jharkhand. The men belonging to the Santhal tribes wear a single piece of cloth known as Bhagawan.
In the 21st century, the Indian people normally don their traditional costumes for formal occasions and western clothes are mostly preferred as a form of casual wear. This form of rule is no exception in Jharkhand. While men put shirts and trousers for daily routines, the ladies prefer jeans & tops, salwar kameez, kurta & leggings as a form of regular wear. However, for formal occasions like festivals and weddings, garments of Tussar silk are highly worn by the people of the state.
When you go to visit a place, you should always make it a point to pick some traditional souvenirs from there for yourself and your loved ones so that you can spread happiness and make your trip a memorable one for a lifetime. If you ever visit Jharkhand next, do buy some Tussar silk garments. This wise step of yours will ensure that you had not only become the owner of a handloom treasure but also helped the artisans indirectly who were the main creators of this product of labour and beauty.