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Types and Sizes of Assamese Gamosa Assamese Gamcha

There are a total of 10 distinct types and dimensions of Assamese gamosa or Assamese gamcha available, largely determined by their specific applications.

As evident, and as we wrote earlier, Assamese gamcha is the heritage of Assamese culture often synonymous to the portrayal of the greater Assamese society. The historical significance of the Assamese Gamosa is deeply intertwined with the region’s rich history.

10 Types of Assamese Gamosa:

  1. Anakota: Where the Gamosa is not cut with any mechanical tools like scissors or blades or machine.

  2. Bihuwan: Gamosa used as a token of respect/love during Bihu.

  3. Dora Boronor Gamosa: A particular gamosa used during the wedding engagement ceremonies to welcome the groom.

  4. Goxain/Thapona Gamosa: The particular type of gamosa is used to cover the Guru Asanas as per the Ek-Saran-Naam-Dharma popularized by Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardev.

  5. Pani Gamosa: This was a royal gamosa and common people were not supposed to wear it.

  6. Phulam Gamosa: The most common Assamese gamosa of the age is the Phulam Gamosa. Phulam means with floral designs, as it contains floral designs on both the ends.

  7. Teli or Telosh Gamosa: Used to wipe off the Tel or Oil after the rituals of maah-halodhi bathing, this gamosa is also associated with Assamese weddings.

  8. Tiyoni: This version is primarily utilized for bathing and drying the body.

  9. Uka Gamosa: The gamosa without any floral design woven into it.

  10. Xadharon (Regular) Gamosa: A Xadharon or regular gamosa is used in the day-to-day life of an Assamese household in different ways by both the males and females.

The Sizes of Assamese Gamosa:

Sizes of Assamese Gamosa

1.Anakota: The Anakota Gamosa, a traditional Assamese Gamosa, measuring between 175 and 200 cm in length and has a width of 76 cm. The unique aspect of the ‘Anakota Gamosa’ is that it is woven as a single piece at a time, and it is removed from the loom without severing the warp threads with any mechanical means and/or tools at all, and this is what makes it unique. It is the most respected type of Assamese gamosa ever available.

2. Bihuwan: When the Assamese Gamosa is being used as a symbol of affection and to show esteem respect given to family members, friends, or even visitors during the Bihu, it is called a BIHUWAN. Generally, a bihuwan is of 150 cm length and 70 cm in width.

A bihuwan is presented by the xhipinie (weaver) to her relatives, loved ones, and distant kin during the Bohag Bihu (the Assamese New Year). The motifs and size of the gamosa she weaves are determined by the depth of her relationship with the recipient. For example, she might weave roses for her partner or husband as a symbol of her affection and care, or she might incorporate his preferred design or anything she deems most appropriate for him. This is also true for her son and other family members.

3. Dora Borona Gamosa: This particular gamosa is mainly used in the Assamese weddings by any types and size of Assamese gamosa. This Gamosa is presented to the groom during the Juroon diya ceremony (akin to an engagement ceremony) as a welcoming gesture, encouraging him to soon come and accompany the bride (koina) on their wedding day.

Nowadays, as it is primarily utilized for decorative purposes, the materials employed include paat/muga silk and cotton, although this can vary based on regional differences and individual preferences around Assam. This item is crafted to be visually appealing and striking, adorned with intricate designs (both large and small) across its entirety. This Gamosa is adorned on both sides with a unique Dahi, termed ‘Keresi’, enhancing its aesthetic appeal.

4. Goxain-Kapur and Thapona-Kapur: This type, while classified under the Gamosa category, can be linked to the Kamrupi etymology of spiritual significance, which translates to ‘gama’ (God) and ‘chadar’ (cloth). This implies a cloth that is respectfully placed on the holy altar (Xaat/Paas/Tini kholopiya [seven/five/three steps] Sinhasana or Guru-asana). Only the elder xhipinie (aged 45-50) are permitted to weave this cloth, adhering to the relevant rules and regulations, which also apply to the motifs and colors, within the established standard measurement.

In the past, the body of the Goxain Kapur was red, with motifs in white and yellow. Some scholars suggest that Sankardeva adopted the model/pattern of Goxain Kapur from the Bodo community. It is also suggested that the aronai or galaban (stole) worn during Bagurumba significantly influenced the pattern and color choice in Goxain Kapur. As Sankardeva spearheaded the religious movement of Ek Sarana Naam Dharma, the Bodo community was also included; it is believed that their aronai inspired the Goxain Kapur as a sign of acceptance and respect towards them.

Thapona-kapur is quite similar to the Goxain-Kapur, albeit smaller in size and holds significant spiritual value. This cloth is placed on the sanctorum (thapona, থাপনা), directly beneath the Bhagavat Puthi or Kirtan Puthi (sacred scripture). It is also used to protect the scriptures from damage.

Unlike today, words such as ৰাম, কৃষ্ণ, হৰি were not inscribed on both the Goxain and Thapona cloths. Instead, they were adorned with motifs of religious significance, such as the lotus, dhatura, parijata, jasmine, tulsi, elephant, duck, and so on, woven into these two variants.

5. Pani Gamosa: This gamosa is also known as 'Adho-Vastra' as it cover the knees which generally is not the case with other types of gamosas. The tradition of using the 'pani Gamosa' began during the rule of the 'Ahom'. Only members of the 'Royal family' were allowed to wear the garment below the knee. The common people wore the Gamosa above the knee. Following the fall of the Ahom kingdom, the general public began to incorporate this 'Gamosa' into their everyday attire.

6. Phulam Gamosa: Also known as Dui Hotiya (measuring two hands), a Phulam Gamosa is primarily the most beautifully designed one among Assamese gamosas. It contains floral patterns/designs on the both the ends. This particular gamosa is commonly used during festivals like Bihu and many different occasions.

Assamese Phulam Gamosa with dohi

In addition to floral patterns, the design of the Phulam Gamosa incorporates elements such as traditional Assamese jewellery motifs, depictions of birds, animal figures, and images of dancing boys and girls, as well as boys and girls from the fishing community. The Phulam Gamosa is presented as a sign of respect to elders, guests, and esteemed individuals at meetings and gatherings. It is also used to express love and affection towards loved ones, and is offered at temples and to priests.

Generally a Phulam Gamosa with floral design on one side is used to felicitate during meetings and other similar rituals.

7. Teli or Telosh Gamosa: During Assamese weddings, a unique and traditional bathing ritual is observed. The bride and groom cleanse their bodies with sacred water, following the application of a paste made from black gram, turmeric, and mustard oil (maah-halodhi). After this cleansing bath, a ‘Telos Gamosa’ is used to dry/wipe their bodies. Once the wedding concludes and the newlywed bride arrives at the groom’s home, the groom continues to wear the ‘Telos Gamosa’ for several days as part of societal customs.

8. Tiyoni: This Gamosa is simpler in design, devoid of any floral patterns woven into it. It is also known as Aahroi Hotiya, which translates to a measurement of two and a half hands. Tiyoni is used in general bathing and wiping the body.

9. Uka Gamosa: Uka means plain, and hence this type is plain in design without any floral patterns. Mostly used by the Assamese people in various rituals and pujas. The types of yarn used in this gamosa is called "Kecha Xuta".

10. Xadharon (Regular) Gamosa: The most commonly found type of gamosa in Assam is the Xadharon or regular gamosa. This kind is utilized for everyday activities - like cleaning one’s face and body, serving as a head covering during farming, used by shepherds during their duties, for domestic chores, and also while fishing.

In conclusion, the Assamese Gamosa, with its10 distinct types and sizes, is a testament to the rich cultural heritage and historical significance of the greater Assamese society. Each type, from the Anakota to the Goxain/Thapona gamosa, carries its own unique story and purpose, deeply rooted in the traditions and customs of the region. Whether it’s used in daily life, during festivals, or in sacred rituals, the Gamosa continues to be an integral part of Assamese culture. Its diverse designs and uses reflect not only the creativity and craftsmanship of the Assamese people but also their values and beliefs.

As we move forward, it’s essential to preserve and cherish these cultural treasures that connect us to our past and shape our identity. The Gamosa, in all its forms, is indeed a beautiful embodiment of the spirit of Assam.

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