Sikki Grass Weaving: Bihar, India

Sikki grass is grown in the wet and marshy area around the rivers and pounds in North
Bihar. It is grown in the area of heavy rainfall. This golden grass is usually collected by
Harijans in the rainy season. The dry grass is then sold by them at the Haat or local
market by the foot.
The munj (another grass) and khar are other important raw materials for the making of
sikki grass products. Munj is much cheaper and more abundant, so it is used to give
basic shape and strength in sikki products. At first munj is coiled and then it is covered
with sikki grass.
Other raw materials are colours for dyeing of sikki grass. These colours are easily
available in the local market.
The last and most valuable raw material is water, which is used to wet the sikki grass
and make it more pliable as it is coiled around the munj.

The main tool used by the Maithili women is a 5-6 inches
long needle-shaped iron object with a rounded head for
grip is called Takua. They also use a very thin knife (choori)
for splitting and scissors (kaichi) for cutting the sikki. Attimes they also use their teeth for splitting sikki grass.

To make the sikki grass usable, it is first cut from near its base and then dried for some
days. Since the flowering part of the stem of sikki is not used for crafts making, it is
discarded and the remaining portion of the sikki is sliced and shaved with the help a of
knife or by teeth.
The sikki is characterized by its wonderful beautiful golden colour, so it is also called as
Golden Grass elsewhere. It is also coloured into different shades of colours e.g. red,
yellow, green, deep blue, purple, and pink, etc. with the locally available colours to
combine it with the natural golden colour to make the final product more attractive.
Before use, sikki is wet lightly to make it more pliable as it is coiled around the munj. The
colouring is achieved by boiling the sikki in different colours. Now the main form is
shaped with munj or khar (other type of grass) to provide the basic shape and additional
strength to the sikki product. Due to its abundance, generally munj is used for coiling
purpose in Maithili region of Bihar.
Then the munj is completely coiled over and covered with sikki so neatly that it is not
visible through the encasing. Then the main tool, takua is used carefully because it can
also cut sikki if the artisan doesn’t use it carefully. The product being made is held firmly
with the left hand while the right hand is completely free to wield the takua. Maithili
women make different designs and patterns in the sikki product by the combining dyed
sikki with natural golden colour sikki to give the product a more artistic and attractive
look. It requires not only skill but lots of creativity, concentration and patience.

 

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