Magazine article Geographical

The Fabric of Time

Magazine article Geographical

The Fabric of Time

Article excerpt

The technical description of jamdani muslins from Bengal--simple, plain-weave cotton fabrics with equal warp and weft--does little to explain their rich history or their extraordinary global popularity

Over recent decades, ever-rising demand for useful and decorative textiles has led to great expansion of industrialised spinning, dyeing, weaving and printing--yet jamdani muslins continue to flow out from homes and small factories throughout Bangladesh, for a market-place that stubbornly refuses to decline

Rupganj Thani, the village where most of these photographs were taken, is a cluster of small-scale, family-based factories, now producing sarees for export to all corners of the globe. Jamdani is most readily associated with the saree; but today jamdani art and techniques are used to produce scarves, skirts, turbans, handkerchiefs and soft furnishings including screens and tablecloths

The skills needed to weave floral arrangements, geometric patterns, even peacocks--without drawings or the help of computerised image-making--have been passed from master to trainee over many generations, often within single families. Today it takes at least one year for a trainee to learn how to weave a saree; even for a basic design, weaving will take a week or more

There are looms in almost all villages of the Dhaka region--Sonargaon, Dhamrai, Titabari, Jangalbari, Bajitpur among the more famous of them--and many more throughout Bengal. …

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