Different types of cane products


18th Feb 2011




Assam is rich in sylvan resources and most of its forests are richly stocked with bamboos and canes of various species. Assam has probably the maximum resources for the cane and bamboo industry in India, comparable with Canada and the Scandinavian countries-Sweden, Norway and Finland.  Special mention may however be made of the forests of Mizo Hills, Cachar, Mikir and North Cachar Hills, Nowgong and Lakhimpur districts. While touring in the hill districts, one sometimes wonders at the vast expanses of bamboos and canes. The making of bamboo and cane products is perhaps the most universal of all the crafts practiced by a large number of artisans scattered throughout the State. It is practiced as a household industry and no mechanical device is used. Cane and bamboo products are used for a wide range of purposes and extensively used in every household.


This industry has carved for itself an important place among the handicrafts of the State. It provides part time employment to the cultivators in their spare time, and full time employment to the few highly skilled artisans who produce only fine decorative baskets, furniture and mats on a commercial basis.


Various cottage and small-scale industries in Assam are dependent on the supply of different kinds of cane and reeds. It is observed that generally three species of cane are exploited in commercial quantities- Jati (Calamus tenuis), Tita (Calamus leptesadix) and Lejai (Calamus floribundus). Some less important qualities like Sundi (Calamus garuba) and Raidang (Calamus flagellum) are also extracted. Cane is also found in abundance almost throughout the state. There are a few more varieties of bamboo and cane used for manufacturing of different products. A kind of muli bamboo locally known as ‘muli bazail’ is used for making umbrella handles. Two other varieties of bamboo locally known as ‘Mrithinga’ and ‘Bethua’ and different varieties of canes locally known as ‘sundi’, ‘barjali’, ‘harua’, ‘golla’ etc. are required for making furniture and baskets.

Murta’ (Clinogyne Dichotoma), a plant of the reed family or patidai, is required for making the famous “Sital Pati” (cool-mat).

For manufacture of ‘japis’ (umbrella), a type of palm leaves locally known as “tokow pat” are used. A ‘fulam japi’ (decorated bamboo umbrella) requires, besides palm leaves, coloured wool, cotton, dyed yarn, mica, etc. for colouring and varnishing of their products, the artisans use the following materials- ‘bhatar phen’ (boiled rice juice), ‘amrapata’ (Hibicus Subdariffa), ‘tamarind leaves’, mezenta (a kind of chemical dye stuff), kalabati chach (lac) resin, ethylated spirit, rabi mustafi, etc.


Various types of cane and bamboo products are found in this state. The people of the plains and hills districts of Assam have their own bamboo and cane products with distinctive features and typical designs. The products of the plain districts differ from that of the hill districts in use, shape and design.

It is found that a variety of products like bamboo mats, sital pati, baskets of various sizes and shapes, winnowing trays, sieves, japi or chatta, various types of fishing implements, etc. are manufactured in large numbers in the plains districts of the state. The cane and bamboo products used for domestic purposes are prepared in every nook and corner of the state out of split bamboo and fine flexible cane strips.


Cane furniture

The manufacture of cane furniture, however, calls for a high degree of skill on the part of the workers. Such skill is found to be traditional. In the manufacture of cane furniture, Cachar district enjoys a special advantage over the other districts of the State as far as skilled artisans are concerned. The craft has commercial production in almost all the important urban areas of the State.

The manufacture of cane furniture starts with the preparation of requisite amount of bamboo slips. Canes of various diameters are also reduced into slips of various sizes according to adaptability. The artisans then prepare a rough structure of the furniture by joining the different bamboo parts (previously sized) with the help of nails. In case of round-cane furniture, thin iron rods are used to get the round cane bend to the required shape. The actual weaving or coiling of the structure so made is done with fine slips of flexible cane. The more skilful an artisan is, the finer slips of cane he can use in coiling and plaiting.

To meet the growing needs of the consumers, urban establishments are found to be engaged in the manufacture of various types of cane furniture and other sundry articles, like boxes, murrahs, cradles, office trays, bottle carriers, tiffin baskets, bicycle baskets, waste paper baskets, etc. The cost of such products is higher than other common bamboo products. 

Cane Baskets


Cane Bamboo Basket lidded with dome shaped lid & square shaped bottom. (twill work technique), Guwahati, Assam

Cane baskets of various types are produced in different parts of the State. Cane baskets are used for various purposes. These are used mainly for carrying goods, storing grains and keeping valuables. The Kukis, Mikirs and Mizos specially use the baskets for keeping ornaments and clothes with locking arrangements. In the plain districts, also a few persons keep their clothes etc. in cane suitcases. Extensive manufacture of ‘plucking baskets’ is found in all the plain districts on a commercial basis. Generally, the tea planters purchase these baskets in big lots from time to time. Therefore, the manufacture of plucking baskets is a monopoly of a few big firms with substantial financial backing. These firms also manufacture various types of baskets used in the carrying of earth, coal etc. It is seen that these bigger firms obtain their supply of raw materials at much lower costs than the others do.

In Assam, baskets are prepared in different designs and by different methods. They may be prepared of both bamboo and cane or cane alone. The different methods of production is confined to the following types, e.g. (1) Plaited or woven work, (2) Wicker Work and (3) Coiled basketry.

Plaited or woven baskets: Plaited basketry consists essentially of two sets of elements (warp and weft) crossing each other. The plaited baskets are prepared in different designs such as check, twilled, twined, wrapped and hexagonal. Baskets used for keeping clothes and ornaments, cane suitcases, etc. are generally prepared in this method.

Wicker work: In wicker work, the warp is not pliable, but the weft is pliable and passed alternately over and under the warp. In this method, the warp is kept in a lesser rigidity. Plucking baskets are prepared in this method.

Coiled basketry: The warp is arranged by cane of sufficient length. Before arrangement, such cane is soaked in water for sometime to give it a flexible character. Simply binding coiled cane while the process of weaving is in operation, preserves the shape of the basket. Finally, the edge of the basket is stitched with a thin and flexible cane slip. Plucking baskets, ration baskets, baskets used for carrying earth, stone-chips, coal etc. are manufactured in this method, technically known as ‘bee-skip’ design.