Jamdani: story of a Bengali obsession and pride

For centuries it has invoked the discerning senses of fashion lovers and has been the dream cloth of millions.
Due to the delicate and time consuming master-craftmanship, it has always been an expensive clothe only available to the Creme de la creme of the society.

One of the very first accounts of the cloth mentioned in history dates back to 300AD. Kautilya, a great ancient Indian economist mentioned Jamdani in his Arthashashtra (book of economics). Back then it was known to be a fine cloth made in Bengal and Pundra (Part of modern Bangladesh).

 The book of Periplus of the Eritrean Sea, the accounts of Arab, Chinese and Italian Travelers and traders have spent pages after pages writing praise for Jamdani.  

The unbleached cotton yarn with woven design using bleached cotton yarn creates an epic where light-n-dark effect of the yarn turns into the red love from the blue pain. The beauty of Jamdani dragged Alexander the Great towards it around 327B.C. and he was amazed with this “beautiful printed cottons” in India.

The Mughals were great admirers and patrons of such elegant artistic handmade fabrics. During the Mughal era Jamdani weaving reach its golden age as weavers were given the highest regards.  Wearing Jamdani fabric was a privilege that only nobility and royalty could afford due to the lengthy and difficult weaving procedures involved in its manufacturing. The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb was said to be so fond of the ‘Jamdani’ that one had to seek royal permission before
daring to wear the precious fabric.

Jamdani woven material is some of the finest found in the world and it is also eco-friendly as it’s made from hand and foot run tools. Some designer Jamdani fabric with intricate patterns for weddings and formal wear can take as much as 9 months to prepare with two full time weavers. Jamdani is very versatile whereby it can be either woven with full cotton, or with a mix of cotton and silk, or with full silk, or with silk and combinations of real gold/silver/precious metal yarn. These rare pieces are truly a masterpiece of exotic breathtaking beauty. Without seeing and feeling it in person you can't be a believer and lover of Jamdani miracle.

Weavers who used to be involved in Jamdani were said to got into the business at their early age. So by the time they reach the prime of their age they become a master craftsman. After the British occupation in Bengal those craftsman were about to be extinct. But we still have a generation of craftsman immensely dedicated even though the industry has shrunken strikingly.   

Aarong, as a part of their 30 years celebration has brought a rare opportunity for the people of Dhaka to experience the glorious days of  Jamdani. “Story of Pride” – an exhibition of Jamdani has been arranged to open the
doors to the people to introduce the legacy of the majestic JAMDANI. You can enjoy the show at the Shilpakala Academy at
Shegunbagicha. You can be a part of it everyday till January 20th 2010.

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