Assignment on Hand Loom Industry in Bangladesh

Hand Loom in Bangladesh

A hand loom is a simple machine used for weaving.In a wooden vertical-shaft looms, the heddles are fixed in place in the shaft. The warp threads pass alternately through a heddle, and through a space between the heddles (the shed), so that raising the shaft raises half the threads (t hose passing through the heddles), and lowering the shaft lowers the same threads—the threads passing through the spaces between the heddles remain in place.

History of Hand HandLoom

In the annals of Indian handloom saree, Shantipur and Fulia are a name to reckon with. Their  fascinating story is also in a nutshell the story of Bengal handloom sarees. The geographical twins could not be more different. The first, a handloom weaving centre over 500 years old. The second came to flourish only  after Partition. Yet, their destinies are linked together – the Shantipur and Fulia saree swim or sink with the success or otherwise of Bengal handloom.

There are records of handloom saree weaving activity in Shantipur, a centre of Vaishnavite culture and Bhakti movement, as early as the 15th century. Weaving flourished throughout the medieval era, and the famed indigo-dyed Neelambari made the Shantipur saree a household name.

There was a strong sense of identity among Shantipur weavers. They united to agitate against the stranglehold of the Dadni system of the British East India Company and even took their grievances to colonial courts during the19th century.

In the decades leading up to independence, Shantipur saw gradual inflow of techniques like the Barrel Dobby facilitating the conversion from Throw Shuttle to Fly Shuttle (1920s), the Jacquard Machine (1930s), and sectional warping and sizing that allowed production of warp yarns 350 yards long (1930s).

Handloom Technology

The handloom is simply a weaving device made of wood and iron mainly operated by hand ,relying solely on human metabolic energy. It requires a space barely 8 sq. metres. Handloom weaving is a cottage based industry spread through out the country. The sounds of the handloom is the music of the rural home inviting fortune to them. In the process of weaving the handloom weaver create a harmony of motion and rhythm. The vast majority of Bangladeshi handlooms are engaged in weaving cotton and blended fabrics although handloom cloth of silk earned a good reputation. Famous areas for silk weaving are Rajshahi, Tangail and Nobabgonj . Rajshahi produces mainly silk sarees, a special type of cloth weared by the women folk . Tangail produces also silk saree namely Tangail Muslin and Narayangonj produces the famous Jamdani saree, silk sarees Tangail Muslins and famous jamdani. Zari work called brocade is also famous in Mirpur, Dhaka .In Bangladesh there are different schools of weaving on jacquard, dobby, frame and pit looms .Product assortments made of other are saree , lungie, gamsa, grameen check fabrics, printed bed covers, pillow covers, table mats, kitchen and hand towels, apron, curtain and upholstery, furnishing fabrics, bags bandage etc.

places

Important Products with Places of Production

Sl.

Name of the Products

Place of Production

1

JamdaniRupgonj and Sonargaon of Narayangonj district.

2

BenarasiMirpur of Dhaka, Iswardi of Pabna district and Gangachara of Rangpur district.

3

Tangail Sharee (Cotton sharee, Half Silk, Soft Silk, Cotton Jamdani, Gas-mercerised twisted cotton sharee, Dangoo sharee, Balucherri)Tangail Sadar, Delduar and Kalihati, Nagorpur, Basail of Tangail District.

4

Handloom Cotton shareShahjadpur, Belkuchi and Sadar of Sirajgonj district, Narsingdi and Pabna districts.

5

LungiRuhitpur of Keranigonj and Dohar of Dhaka district,Shahjadpur,Ullapara, Belkuchi, Sadar of Sirajgonj district,Kumarkhali of Kushtia district, Sathia,

6

Silk shareSadar and Shibgonj of Chapai Nawabgonj and Rajshahi district.

7

GamchaUllapara,Kamarkhand of Serajgonj, Gouranadi of Barisal, Fultola,Doulatpur of Khulna,Jhalokathi, Jessore and Bogra districts.

8

Check FabricsBelkuchi of Sirajgonj district.

9

Mosquito NetsAraihazar and Rupgonj of narayangonj district,Shibpur and Sadar of Narsingdi district.

10

Bed Sheet & Bed CoverKumarkhali of Kustia district, Danga of Narsingdi district.

11

Sofa CoverDanga of Narsingdi district.

12

Rakhine Special Wear(Wooling Shirting, Woolen Bed Sheet, ladies chadar, Bag,Lungi and Thami for tribal ladies)Taltoli of Borguna district, Kalapara, Rangabali of Patuakhali district and Cox’s Bazar district.

13

Tribal Fashion Wear (Thami for tribal ladies, Khati(Orna), Ladies Chadar & Lungi.Rangamati, Khagrachari & Bandarban Hill districts.

14

Miniouri Fashion Garments (Monipuri Sharee, Punek for ladies like lungi, Lungi, Un-stitched cloth (three pieces), Innachi(Orna) & Vanity BagSylhet and Moulivibazar districts.

TOOLS OF HANDLOOM

Shuttle

    As the harnesses raise the heddles or healds, which raise the warp yarns, the shed is created. The filling yarn in inserted through the shed by a small carrier device called a shuttle. The shuttle is normally pointed at each end to allow passage through the shed. In a traditional shuttle loom, the filling yarn is wound onto a quill, which in turn is mounted in the shuttle. The filling yarn emerges through a hole in the shuttle as it moves across the loom. A single crossing of the shuttle from one side of the loom to the other is known as a pick. As the shuttle moves back and forth across the shed, it weaves an edge, or selvage, on each side of the fabric to prevent the fabric from raveling.

Battening

As the shuttle moves across the loom laying down the fill yarn, it also passes through openings in another frame called a reed (which resembles a comb). With each picking operation, the reed presses or battens each filling yarn against the portion of the fabric that has already been formed. The point where the fabric is formed is called the fell. Conventional shuttle looms can operate at speeds of about 150 to 160 picks per minute.

There are two secondary motions, because with each weaving operation the newly constructed fabric must be wound on a cloth beam. This process is called taking up. At the same time, the warp yarns must be let off or released from the warp beams. To become fully automatic, a loom needs a tertiary motion, the filling stop motion. This will brake the loom, if the weft thread breaks.An automatic loom requires 0.125 hp to 0.5 hp to operate.

Types of loom

Backstrap loom

A simple loom which has its roots in ancient civilizations comprising two sticks or bars between which the warps are stretched. One bar is attached to a fixed object and the other to the weaver usually by means of a strap around the back. On traditional looms, the two main sheds are operated by means of a shed roll over which one set of warps pass, and continuous string heddles which encase each of the warps in the other set. The weaver leans back and uses their body weight to tension the loom. To open the shed controlled by the string heddles, the weaver relaxes tension on the warps and raises the heddles. The other shed is usually opened by simply drawing the shed roll toward the weaver. Both simple and complex textiles can be woven on this loom. Width is limited to how far the weaver can reach from side to side to pass the shuttle. Warp faced textiles, often decorated with intricate pick-up patterns woven in complementary and supplementary warp techniques are woven by indigenous peoples today around the world. They produce such things as belts, ponchos, bags, hatbands and carrying cloths. Supplementary weft patterning and brocading is practiced in many regions. Balanced weaves are also possible on the backstrap loom. Today, commercially produced backstrap loom kits often include a rigid heddle.

The warp-weighted loom is a vertical loom that may have originated in the Neolithic period. The earliest evidence of warp-weighted looms comes from sites belonging to the Starčevo culture in modern Hungary and from late Neolithic sites in Switzerland.[4] This loom was used in Ancient Greece, and spread north and west throughout Europe thereafter. Its defining characteristic is hanging weights (loom weights) which keep bundles of the warp threads taut. Frequently, extra warp thread is wound around the weights. When a weaver has reached the bottom of the available warp, the completed section can be rolled around the top beam, and additional lengths of warp threads can be unwound from the weights to continue. This frees the weaver from vertical size constraints.

Drawloom

A drawloom is a hand-loom for weaving figured cloth. In a drawloom, a “figure harness” is used to control each warp thread separately.[6] A drawloom requires two operators, the weaver and an assistant called a “drawboy” to manage the figure harness.

Power looms

Edmund Cartwright built and patented a power loom in 1785, and it was this that was adopted by the nascent cotton industry in England. The silk loom made by Jacques Vaucanson in 1745 operated on the same principles but wasn’t developed further. The invention of the flying shuttle by John Kay was critical to the development of a commercially successful power loom.[8] Cartwright’s loom was impractical but the ideas were developed by numerous inventors in the Manchester area in England, where by 1818 there were 32 factories containing 5732 looms.

Horrocks loom was viable but it was the Roberts Loom in 1830[10] that marked the turning point. Before this time hand looms had outnumbered power looms. Incremental changes to the three motions continued to be made. The problems of sizing, stop-motions, consistent take-up and a temple to maintain the width remained. In 1841, Kenworthy and Bullough produced the Lancashire Loom[11] which was self-acting or semi-automatic. This enables a 15-year-old spinner to run six looms at the same time. Incrementally, the Dickinson Loom, and then the Keighley born inventor Northrop working for the Draper Corporation in Hopedale produced the fully automatic Northrop Loom which recharged the shuttle when the pirn was empty. The Draper E and X model became the leading products from 1909 until they were challenged by the different characteristics of synthetic fibres such as rayon.

From 1942 the faster and more efficient shuttleless Sulzer looms and the rapier looms were introduced. Modern industrial looms can weave at 2000 weft insertions per minute. Today, advances in technology have produced a variety of looms designed to maximize production for specific types of material. The most common of these are air-jet looms (e.g. “JAT710”) and water-jet looms

Features of Handloom

1.Uniqueness – intricate designs

2.Flexibility of production in small batches

3.Constant scope for innovation

4.Adaptability

5.Rich comfort factor

6.Eco-friendliness

7.Niche products can’t be made on Power loom

8.Small volumes of Niche products possible only on Handlooms

9.Consumer perception –Uniqueness in clothing and pride of being different than others

10.Multiple Handloom products with fusion of traditional and trendy designs are possible.

11.Growing concern on Social responsibility, Ethical sourcing, Sweat- Shop conditions and pro-poor approach among international buyers.

Importance of Handlooms in Bangladesh

Historically handloom has got its predominance and heritages in Bangladesh. The tradition of weaving cloth by hand constitutes one of the richest aspects of Bangladesh culture and heritage. The level of artistry and intricacy achieved in handloom fabrics are unparallel and unique. The handloom can meet every need from exquisite fabrics of daily use. The industry has displayed innate resilience to withstand and adopt itself to the changing demand of modern times.

A manpower of about one million weavers, dyers, hand spinners, embroiderers and allied artisans have been using their creative skills into more than 0.30 million active looms to produce around 620 million meters of fabrics annually. It shares 63% of the total fabric production in the country designed for home consumption, meeting 40% of the local demand for fabrics. Besides, it provides employment opportunities to a million rural people, 50% of which are female. Another half a million people are indirectly engaged in the industry. It contributes more than 10 (ten) billion taka annually to the national exchequer as value addition.

For the development of Handloom sector and ensure well being of the handloom weavers, Bangladesh Handloom Board has been implementing a number of package programmes covering supply of input, innovation of suitable designs, financing of working capital, development of human resources, modernization of handloom technology, efficient marketing management and formation of sound weavers societies.
In a world, the Handloom Industry has no alternative in the development of rural economy.

Lifestyle of handloom people

Since its inception in 1984, UBINIG has been arguing that handloom weaving sector is a determining factor of development. This is true not only of rural development and poverty alleviation strategies and programmes, but in setting Bangladesh economy as a whole into the mode of positive economic transformation. Ensuring sustainability and prosperity for the people in general must be the goal of development. To achieve that goal the development policy should strive to articulate the community-based entrepreneurial activities with the agrarian production systems for an innovative development strategy in a rapidly transforming global economy, such as handloom. Handloom is a unique productive activity that hardly requires any external energy and absorbs both the labour and the creativity of the individual artisan, an excellent sector to absorb large rural population. In a dominantly agrarian economy, mobilisation of such activities could accelerate the growth entrepreneurial within the agrarian economy to a point before industrial sector on its own could emerge from agriculture, retaining its driving motivation for sustainable livelihood. A self-reliant economy must walk on both legs – agriculture and industry.

To challenge the conventional development strategy, UBINIG started to work with both the weavers and the farming communities. PRABARTANA, the sales outlet of handloom products, grew out of the activities with the weavers. It now functions independently and well known for its leadership in handloom weaving. The powerful peasant movement for biodiversity-based ecological agriculture, known as Nayakrishi Andolon (New Agricultural Movement), has eventually developed from the activities with the farming communities. PRABARTANA in the urban landscape is now a place to think, learn and actively link with weavers, artisans, farming and other productive communities in order to create scope for people to participate for a conscious lifestyle movement. This could contribute to the challenges of Bangladesh towards a new future. Let’s build our country, Bangladesh.

Present status of handloom

Bangladesh Handloom Board (BHB) was established in 1977 as a Statutory Public Sector Organization under the administrative control of the Ministry of Textiles and Jute. The Board has been entrusted with the responsibility for overall development of the handloom sector of the country and to make welfare of the people engaged therein Historically handloom has got its predominance and heritages in Bangladesh. The tradition of weaving cloth by hand constitutes one of the richest aspects of Bangladesh culture and heritage. The level of artistry and intricacy achieved in handloom fabrics are unparallel and unique. The handloom can meet every need from exquisite fabrics of daily use. The industry has displayed innate resilience to withstand and adopt itself to the changing demand of modern times.

Handloom sector in Bangladesh consists of more than 0.183 million handloom units with 0.505 million handlooms and about 1 million handloom weavers of which about 50% are female worker. A manpower of about one million weavers, dyers, hand spinners, embroiderers and allied artisans have been using their creative skills into more than 0.30 million active looms to produce around 687 million meters of fabrics annually. Production of these handloom fabrics is diffused in numerous production centers all over the country which are linked up by a network of primary, secondary and central market.

Weavers are being organized under the fold BHB registered weaver’s societies of three tiers viz. Primary, Secondary and Apex. At present there are 1314 primary weaver’s societies, 58 secondary weaver’s societies and 1 Apex society in the country.

Bangladesh Handloom Board with its head quarter in Dhaka, has 6 Services Centers equipped with modern machinery, one Training Institute, one Training Unit and 30 Basic Centers located at different loom concentrated areas (mostly in the rural areas) of the country. These centers are engaged in providing technical, financial, advisory and extension services to the handloom weavers.

For the development of Handloom sector and ensure well being of the handloom weavers, Bangladesh Handloom Board has been implementing a number of package programs covering supply of input, innovation of suitable designs, financing of working capital, development of human resources, modernization of handloom technology, efficient marketing

management and formation of sound weavers societies.

Present product of handloom

The handloom is simply a weaving device made of wood and iron mainly operated by hand ,relying solely on human metabolic energy. It requires a space barely 8 sq. metres. Handloom weaving is a cottage based industry spread through out the country. The sounds of the handloom is the music of the rural home inviting fortune to them. In the process of weaving the handloom weaver create a harmony of motion and rhythm. The vast majority of Bangladeshi handlooms are engaged in weaving cotton and blended fabrics although handloom cloth of silk earned a good reputation. Famous areas for silk weaving are Rajshahi, Tangail and Nobabgonj . Rajshahi produces mainly silk sarees, a special type of cloth weared by the women folk . Tangail produces also silk saree namely Tangail Muslin and Narayangonj produces the famous Jamdani saree, silk sarees Tangail Muslins and famous jamdani. Zari work called brocade is also famous in Mirpur, Dhaka .In Bangladesh there are different schools of weaving on jacquard, dobby, frame and pit looms .Product assortments made of other are saree , lungie, gamsa, grameen check fabrics, printed bed covers, pillow covers, table mats, kitchen and hand towels, apron, curtain and upholstery, furnishing fabrics, bags bandage etc.

Export of handloom fabric

Hand woven textile goods has a glorious heritage in the history of weaving. The excellence of Bangladeshi hand woven fabrics was known to the West before the dawn of the British era. The lure of fine Muslin and exquisite weaves found their way to a number of European market . At present many countries across the globe import handloom goods from Bangladesh. The products range from traditional fabrics of contemporary furnishing and household textiles are meant for export.

Different Kinds of Hand Looms Hand Loom made dresses and Products

Banarasi

Banarasi Palli Amazing Handloom Heritage

Location: Mirpur, Dhaka, Bangladesh

During partition in 1947 some 125 families migrated to Parbatipur of Rajshahi district and to various areas of Old Dhaka — Becharam Deuri, Kazi Alauddin Road, Kaiktuli, Tanti Bazar, Doyaganj and Gandaria from Benaras in India. And they brought along with them their skills of weaving the famous benarasi sari. After independence of Bangladesh, the artisans who were in Dhaka started to live in the refugee camps of Mirpur and made their living from weaving saris. Gradually their small handloom industry began to expand and so did the production. Sari making in Mirpur gradually grew into big industry from what was initially cottage industry. Towards the late nineties, a big market also grew up alongside the sari-making units in Mirpur. This is now known as the Benarasi Palli. Though the craft of making Benarasi sari was brought in by non-Bengalis and they are the ones who knew this craft, gradually the number of Bengali artisans has also risen and at present the number of Bengali artisans is almost equal to those of non-Bengalis.

Mirpur Benarasi Palli is a makeshift market spread over section 10 to 11 of Mirpur. The market was developed by people migrated from Indian city of Benaras. Most of the weavers there are also from Indian state, Bihar.

According to the traders, there are nearly 110 shops at the Palli. Some 20,000 weavers and salesmen are involved with the business directly.

There are different types of saris available in the Mirpur Benarasi Palli — Ranguli, Opera, Maslin Galaxy, Organza, and Peerless Katan. There are party and wedding saris also. After independence, a considerable number of non-Bengali citizens in Bangladesh, known as the Biharis wanted to go to Pakistan but could not do so due to complication in the repatriation process, these people are called “Stranded Pakistanis” or the Bihari Community. Although they are residing in “refugee camps,” the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) does not recognize them as refugees. Therefore, they are deprived of the benefits and opportunities extended to the refugees by the UNHCR. The ethnic identity Bihari has a derogatory meaning in Bangladesh. Since the Biharis are believed to have opposed the independence of Bangladesh, and have collaborated with the Pakistani government in 1971 in the killing of Bengalis, they had to bear enormous social, economic and political consequences immediately after the independence of Bangladesh.
Regarded as stranded Pakistani, Benarasi weavers of Mirpuri Bena Rasi Polli have been living in Mirpur in Dhaka, , they are descendants of Muslims who lived in Bihar a Hindu dominated state of India and historically and politically migrated to then newly East Pakistan.
Benarasi saree whose history dates back to the Mughal rule in the 16th century, has its origin in Benaras, a northern city of India. In Bangladesh the migrated Muslim from Benaras, started making Benarasi saree at Mohammadpur and Mirpur in Dhaka since .

The Benarasi industry is now wobbling on enormous difficulties. As a result, the number of craftsmen, handlooms and outlets are declining day by day. About 25,000 people are now occupied in the Benarasi industry. Two or three years ago their number was 100,000 approx. The number of handloom has reduced from 20,000 in 2004 to 5000 now .The number of outlet has also dropped to only 100 in Mirpur, the city’s hub of Benarasi sarees.
Benarasi Skill Industry center in Becharam Dewry in the old Dhaka during the 1930s . Saress were priced at Rs 150 and a bridal sarees as available at Rs 400. Main market outlets situated in Sadarghat market and then posh newly established New market.
The remarkable two nation theory of Zinah was appeared through the birth of India and Pakistan , consequently the Bihari Muslim community from the present day Indian provinces of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh Madhya Prodesh and Rajasthan made a passage to newly East Pakistan a unknown region for them. Nevertheless, the craftsmanship and artistic quality of Bihari weavers gave them new economic identity and socio-economic patterns of this community mostly moved by this Benarosi weaving skills and other weaving skills. According to Bangladesh Handloom Board, the migrant community set up the Benarosi industry in Mirpur areas of Dhaka in 1950.
Consequently , the weavers weaved Zamdani shares, Mala sharee , varieties of Quatan sharess and other colorful and gorgeous shares as well as their making products had been adored and admired by Elite society, especially for fashion conscious women , bridal choice and sophisticated social class. Biharis Urdu speaking community is famous for their handy craft works, Banarsi one of the most popular craft among them.
At present, a number of serious problems are intimidating the survival of this industry people who are going through a tremendous procedure of Physical labour and to produce a single piece of benarasi. The Benarasi industry in Bangladesh is still dependent on handloom while the Indian Benarosil industry is using power loom. The technological advancement gives India relatively lower production cost benefits although the Bangladeshi industry is decaying for the lack of technological advancement , lack of patronization and other social as well as economic factors.
The Benarasi Polli in Mirpur is the country’s largest emporium for benarasi shares , though the weavers are producing zamdani, qatans and other gorgeous shares. The Benarasi market in Mirpur which had originally started with 5 to 5 shops roughly 25 years ago have grown in size but the mushrooming of shopping malls in more rent times is not only squeezing it in terms of physical area but also in fashion competivetiveness forcing many of the weavers to leave this profession despite having ties with this industry for generations.
Sadakat Khan , President of Urdu Speaking People Youth rehabilitation Movement expressed “ About 10-15 thousands weavers are involved in this industry where the saress are designed, hand woven and marketed all locally by weavers and traders who have been in this industry for generation. Presently, there are about 1,000 manufacturing units in Mirpur. It is very unfortunate that they are weaving traditional ways of design. They don’t have qualified or modern designer. So the demand of the Banarsi craft has been decreasing among the city based customer. One of the another reason is Indian sharess which is too low cost and people prefer it most” Monju, 65 years old weaver and entrepreneur said“Accommodation problem is most severe in Mirpur Bihari Polli, we use our home for dual purpose ; living and making sharees are continuing in the same roof. At night we sleep, but the home becomes factory at morning. The gorgeous shress are made in small rooms with no ventilation support or proper lighting facilities.”

jamdani sharees of Bangladesh

“Jamdani Saree” is a product of hand-loom and  made up of cotton.This type of jamdani saree came from the idea of Muslin,another super thin and soft fabric of Bangladesh.There are some kinds of jamdani like figured or flowered jamdani and fabricated jamdani.But whatever may be the kind jamdani is undoubtedly the best cotton weaved handloom product in Bangladesh.

Narayanganj is a place near the capital Dhaka ,where the traditional jamdani is weaved.In Sonargaon in Narayanganj there is also one market where the jamdani is sold in the very early morning.On that market in Sonargaon the weavers gather in the very early morning and sell jamdani saree in a very low price.Though,they sell a large number of jamdani saree over there but still the price they get is very low in comparison to their hard labor.

But this jamdani saree price gets very high when it is displayed in a showroom in the market.There is a renowned place where you will get a lot of jamdani collection in the city of Dhaka.

Hokers Markets near Dhaka new market is a nice place to buy jamdani saree cause you will get a huge collection and the price are also reasonable.

Another market is Benarosi Polli in Mirpur,Dhaka,Here also you will get a lot of jamdani saree and also other sarees are available in this Benarosi Polli

Jamdani  is a hand loom woven fabric made of cotton, which historically was referred to as muslin. The Jamdani weaving tradition is of Bengali origin. It is one of the most time and labor intensive forms of weaving hand loom weaving. In the first half of the nineteenth century, James Taylor described the figured or flowered jamdani; in the late nineteenth century, T. N. Mukharji referred to this fabric as jamdani muslin. Whether figured or flowered, jamdani is a woven fabric in cotton, and it is undoubtedly one of the varieties of the finest muslin. It has been spoken of as the most artistic textile of the Bangladeshi weaver. Traditionally woven around Dhaka and created on the loom brocade, jamdani is fabulously rich in motifs.

through mostly used for saris, Jamdani is also used for scarves and handkerchiefs. Jamdani is believed to be a fusion of the ancient cloth-making techniques of Bengal (perhaps 2,000 years old) with the muslins produced by Bengali Muslims since the 14th century. Jamdani is the most expensive product of Dhaka looms since it requires the most lengthy and dedicated work.

Jamdani patterns are mostly of geometric, plant, and floral designs and are said to originate in Persian and Mughal fusion thousands of years ago. Due to the exquisite pain-staking methodology required, only aristocrats and royal families were able to afford such luxuries.

The main pecuiliarity of Jamdani work is the geometric design. The expert weavers do not need to draw the design on paper, but instead work from memory. Jamdanis have different names according to their design (for instance, panna hajar, dubli lala, butidar, tersa, jalar, duria, charkona & many others). Present-day Jamdani saris have on their ground designs of rose, Jasmine, lotus, bunches of bananans, bunches of ginger and sago. A Jamdani with small flowers diapered on the fabric is known as Butidar. If these flowers are arranged in reclined position it is called tersa jamdani. It is not necessary that these designs are made of flowers only. There can be designs with peacocks and leaves of creepers. If such designs cover the entire field of the sari it is called jalar naksha. If the field is ocvered with rows of flowers it is known as fulwar jamdani. Duria Jamdani has designs of spots all over. Belwari jamdani with colorful golden borders used to be made during the Mughal period, especially for the women of the inner court.

There are many shops of jamdani sarees in Mirpur Area at original no. 10 area.

The early History

The earliest mention of the origin of Jamdani and its development as an industry is found in Kautilya’s book of economics (about 300 AD) where it is stated that this fine cloth used to be made in Bengal and Pundra. Its mention is also found in the book of Periplus of the Eritrean Sea and in the accounts of Arab, Chinese and Italian travelers and traders. Four kinds of fine cloth used to be made in Bengal and Pundra in those days, viz khouma, dukul, pattrorna and karpasi. From various historical accounts, folklore and slokas, it may be assumed that very fine fabrics were available in Bengal as far back as the first decade before Christ. Cotton fabrics like dukul and muslin did not develop in a day. Dukul textile appears to have evolved into muslin. Jamdani designs and muslin developed simultaneously. The fine fabric that used to be made at Mosul in Iraq was called mosuli or mosulin In his 9th century book Sril Silat-ut-Tawarikh the Arab geographer Solaiman mentions the fine fabric produced in a state called Rumy, which according to many, is the old name of the territory now known as Bangladesh. In the 14th century, Ibn Batuta profusely praised the quality of cotton textiles of Sonargaon. Towards the end of the 16th century the English traveler Ralph Fitch and historian Abul Fazl also praised the muslin made at Sonargaon.

The Mughal Era

Without any shadow of doubt, it can be said that the jamdani industry of East Bengla reached its zenith during the Moghul era. The art of making jamdani designs on fine fabric reached its zenith during Mughal rule. There were handlooms in almost all villages of the Dhaka district. Dhaka, Sonargaon, Dhamrai, Titabari, Jangalbari and Bajitpur were famous for making superior quality jamdani and muslin. Traders from Europe, Iran, Armenia, as well as Mughal-Pathan traders used to deal in these fabrics. The Mughal Emperor, the Nawab of Bengal and other aristocrats used to engage agents at Dhaka to buy high quality muslin and jamdani for their masters’ use. The golden age of Dhaka muslin began with Mughal rule. Since then the demand for jamdani and muslin fabrics at home and abroad grew and this prompted further improvement in their manufacture. According to 18th century documents of the East India Company, a high official of the company was posted at Dhaka to buy mulmul khas and sarkar-i-ali. He had the designation of Daroga-i-mulmul. Every weaving factory had an office, which maintained records of the best weavers and other exports. Weavers had no fixed salary. They used to be paid the market value of the jamdani or muslin they produced. It was the duty of the Daroga to keep a sharp eye at every stage of production. Mulmul khas worth about Re. 100,000 collected from Dhaka, Sonargaon and Jangalbari used to be sent to the Mughal court every year. According to a 1747 account of muslin export, fabrics worth Re 550,000 were bought for the Emperor of Delhi, the Nawab of Bengal and the famous trader Jagath Sheth. The same year European traders and companies bought muslin worth Re 950,000. Towards the end of the 18th century, the export of muslin suffered a decline. After the English gained Diwani in Bengal in 1765, Company agents resorted to oppressing the weavers for their own gains. They used to dictate prices. If weavers refused to sell their cloth at a lower price they were subjected to repression. To stop this repression the East India Company started buying the textiles directly from the weavers. According to James Wise, Dhaka muslin worth Re 5 million was exported to England in 1787. James Taylor put the figure at Re 3 million. In 1807, the export came down to Re 850,000 and the export completely stopped in 1817. Thereafter muslin used to go to Europe as personal imports.

Changes with time

We do not know exactly when jamdani came to be adorned with floral patterns of the loom. It is, however, certain that in the Mughal period, most likely during the reign of either Emperor Akbar (1556–1605) or Emperor Jahangir (1605–1627), the figured or flowered muslin came to be known as the jamdani. Forbes Watson in his most valuable work titled Textile Manufactures and Costumes of the people of India holds that the figured muslins, because of their complicated designs, were always condidered the most expensive productions of the Dhaka looms.

The designs and colors also changed with time. Originally, the motifs used to be made on gray fabric. Later on fabrics of other colours were also used. In the 1960s, jamdani work on red fabric became very popular. The Victoria and Albert Museum of London has a fine collection of jamdani with work in white on white fabric. The production methods have also changed. Previously, popcorn, rice or barley was used for starch. Before making jamdani, the designers used to dye their yarn and starch it. For dye they used flowers and leaves of creepers. For quality jamdani they used yarn of 200 to 250 counts. These days weavers buy fine yarn from the market and use chemical dyes instead of herbal dyes. Finally, time has also influenced the designs. Keeping up the modern demand, present day jamdani saris have on their ground designs of rose, jasmine, lotus, bunches of bananas, bunches of ginger and sago. Recently, there is a trend of embroidering Jamdanis or putting ‘’paars’’ on saris. However, many traditionalists are vehemently against this trend, claiming this is destroying a tradition.

The decline and Fall

From the middle of the 19th century, there was a gradual decline in the jamdani industry. A number of factors contributed to this decline. Use of machinery in the English textile industry, and the subsequent import of lower quality, but cheaper yarn from Europe, started the decline. Most importantly, the decline of Mughal power in India, deprived the producers of jamdani of their most influential patrons. Villages like Madhurapur and Jangalbari, (both in the Kishoreganj district), once famous for the jamdani industry went into gradual oblivion.

Monipuri Handlooms

Women of Monipuri community are especially involved in economic activities for earnings in support of their family. Their handloom items like colourful sharees, bedsheets, napkins, lungis and wrappers are in good demand in Dhaka, Chittagong and even London and other worldwide cities.

Monipuri clothing items are sold everywhere from footpath shops to posh shopping malls in cities, online internet stores such as sareeguru.com and are acclaimed by fashion conscious urban people. Urban ladies like Monipuri sharees as they are very fashionable and economical.

Monipuri community is different from other tribesmen. They are the only tribal community in Bangladesh who live in plainlands. There is at least one handloom in each family. These are simple in design and low cost.

Bibi Russell

Though Monipuri women are traditionally specialised in producing handloom items, the picture was not like this even a few years back. They are grateful to internationally known Bangladeshi fashion designer Bibi Russell. She went there in 2001 and encouraged them, displaying various designs.

In the textile Asia 2005 fashion show Bibi Russell productions, the pride of Bangladesh performed in the grand event.

Bibi Russell presented contemporary clothes that drew heavily on the Bengali tradition. Kurtas, lachas, turbans, topis, and bags in bright colours stormed the ramp. Her collection was especially designed for this region and she was out to show how natural weaves and primitive designs can be so exciting. Her choice of colour and presentation was nothing like anything seen on the local fashion scene.

Bibi is a 1975 graduate from the London College of Fashion and a veteran model for top international fashion brands including YSL, Karl Lagerfeld, Armani and Kenzo. She has shared the ramp with models like Jerry Hall, Iman and Marie Helvin and later Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Claudia Schiffer. Using her exposure to the international fashion scene and her eclectic education, Bibi decided to use her craft to help the craftsmen of her country. She propagated the theory “fashion for development” and her first Paris show titled “Weavers of Bangladesh” found work for over 30,000 craftsmen.

Bibi’s return to Bangladesh in early 1990s was to fulfil her dream of promoting Bangladeshi fabrics and crafts.

Khadi Cottage Industry in Commilla

Comilla has been playing an influential role in creating woven crafts since the days of the Mughals. There were numerous weavers in the Tripura state during the 17th century. The 1890 Tripura Gazetteer tells us that a woven craft existed in the area which employed thirteen thousand men and two thousand women weavers.

The 1890 Tripura Gazzetteer tells us that a woven craft existed in the area which employed thirteen thousand men and two thousand women weavers. Among them most were Hindu in religion and came from Mainamoti, Chandina, Gauripur, Nobinagar, Kalikachha, Dhamti and Borkamta. In Mainamoti were made brightly coloured lungies in check design as well as sarees and gamchhas.
These cost between taka two and five in the currency of that time. The weavers from Shorail, Kalikachha and Nabinagar used to make very good quality dhuties and bed sheets. These used to cost from taka two to five a pair depending on their quality.

These cost between taka two and five in the currency of that time. The weavers from Shorail, Kalikachha and Nabinagar used to make very good quality dhuties and bed sheets. These used to cost from taka two to five a pair depending on their quality.

Comilla has been playing an influential role in  creating woven crafts since the days of the Mughals. There were numerous weavers in the Tripura state during the 17th century. The 1890 Tripura Gazetteer tells us that a woven craft existed in the area which employed thirteen thousand men and two thousand women weavers. Among them most were Hindu in religion and came from Mainamoti, Chandina, Gauripur, Nobinagar, Kalikachha, Dhamti and Borkamta. In Mainamoti were made brightly coloured lungies in check design as well as sarees and gamchhas. These cost between taka two and five in the currency of that time. The weavers from Shorail, Kalikachha and Nabinagar used to make very good quality dhuties and bed sheets. These used to cost from taka two to five a pair depending on their quality. Woven craft was mainly concentrated within the areas of Moenamoti, Muradnagar, Gauripur and Chandina. These weavers who had been practising this craft for generations were apt in this field long before the craft became famous in Europe. Even when the demand for material imported from London and Manchester was high, the demand for material woven within the country remained unaffected. Apparels of modern design were made from the posh imported material whereas the everyday clothing of the people of the country, such as dhuties for Hindus and lungies for Muslims, were made from our own material.

Apart from Comilla’s legendary woven art, the khadi work of this area is of a quality good enough to compete with any type of cloth from any part of the world. Mahatma Gandhi’s exemplary principles and protests against foreign cloth inspired the initiation of Khadi work in Comilla. A branch of the Nikhil Bharat Tantubai Samiti was founded in Comilla which helped promote the exceptional products of the Khadi industry in Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. After the partition of India in 1947, Khadi work was almost on its way to extinction due to various changes in the political and social environments. Comilla also suffered the effects of those changes.

Pradip raha, now nearing the age of 58, lives in Comilla and is known for his business of Khadi material. Tourists from within the country and abroad visit his store of pure Khaddar material whenever they go to Comilla. There is nothing unworthy of being bought at his store. Pradip Babu tried his hand at the weaving industry but he now prefers to deal with Khadi materials. He says that there is still a lot of demand for this particular type of material, especially because clothes made with this material are now being made in newer and more modern designs. When asked if the prices have risen compared to what they used to be, he says that it is natural with time. Materials have become much costlier than they used to be. For instance, a khadi dress that could be purchased at a certain price now, one could buy more than one dress at the same price before. There are a lot of reasons behind this, like lack of good quality labor, electricity load shedding and a rise in the general price of things. He says that even though a number of many competent weavers had left Bangladesh after the liberation war, there are still many highly skilled weavers who do good work, even with no formal training of the art.
In fact, none of the weavers in Chadinar village has any formal training. All they possess is experience acquired over time. It is really amazing to see how impressive their intricately woven clothes are. With time, the girls in the family also started to work as weavers. However, Khadi work is done only by aged and experienced weavers. Thread work designs and hand paintings are mainly done by women.
After the liberation of Bangladesh, Khaddar work again flourished and made a name both at home and abroad, making its home district Comilla wellknown and famous all over. The weavers of Comilla have kept up with the changes in design with time, and they now follow the modern designs of Madras and Bombay Corporationss to keep their work up-to-date and suitable for the current styles of clothing. This has brought a touch of modernity to the ageold khaddar art of Comilla. A few names that must be mentioned when speaking of Khaddar art of this region are Prabodh Das, Taruni Mohan Raha, Dinesh Babu, Manmohan Dutta, Shantosh Dutta, Samar Majumdar, Swapan Majumdar, Bahar Mia, Jairam Shaha, and Shankar Babu. These persons have been related to the Khadi industry by family tradition and they have relentlessly worked to keep this art alive and vibrant.

Comilla’s Khaddar is now well-known all over the country which is why we see so many stores that sell Khaddar material. The material is also sold in stores in markets like Gariahata in Kolkata. A new Khadi Market has been set up in Monohorpur of Comilla and on the Kandipara-Laksham Road. And even though the Khadi market called Bay-land shipping center is small in size, numerous customers come and buy from there Khaddar materials that suit their tastes (Zakir Azad, November 25, 2006).

lungi

The lungi (Bengali: লুঙ্গি /luŋɡi/) is the most commonly-seen dress of Bangladeshi men, although it is not normally worn on formal occasions. In Bangladesh, lungis are worn by men, almost universally indoors and commonly outdoors as well. Elaborately-designed tartan cotton, batik, or silk lungis are also often presented as wedding gifts to the groom in a Bengali wedding. The typical Bangladeshi lungi is a seamless tubular shape, as opposed to the single sheet worn in other parts of South and Southeast Asia. In Bangladesh, the lungi industry is concentrated in Khulna. Bengali women do not traditionally wear lungis, although non-Bengali tribal women do wear similar garments in some parts of southeastern Bangladesh.

Natural dye 

Ruby Ghuznavi & Revival of Natural Dyes

Ruby Ghuznavi set up Aranya to assess the commercial viability of natural dyes and promote its extensive use both in Bangladesh and abroad. Before establishing Aranya in 1991, she was the Project Director for 8 eight years of the Vegetable Dye Project, which was taken up as a Research & Development project by the Government of Bangladesh. Furthermore, from 1975 to 1992, she served as the Country Delegate of Terre Des Hommes, a Swiss NGO working with underprivileged children in rural and urban areas of Bangladesh. Ruby Ghuvnavi is a successful entrepreneur and a lynchpin of the arts and crafts sector of Bangladesh. She has played a significant role in reviving the natural dye process in the country and has authored books on the subject

Everyday, as technology is moving forward, products are becoming sleeker and smaller, but with more abilities packed into them. Such is the result of globalization, that goods produced in one part of the world are available everywhere. Unfortunately, not all effects of globalization are positive. In the search for cost effectiveness and scale of production, textiles commonly use chemical dyes. Often, these chemical reagents used by dyeing operations are very diverse in chemical composition, ranging from inorganic compounds and elements of polymers. They constitute a part of the vast volume of effluence that has contaminated the river system around Dhaka and killed its aquatic life. The world at large is slowly awakening towards the ill effects of harming the environment, and the global trend is now towards saving nature. In light of this, it can be expected that the global demand will shift from manmade dyes to natural, eco-friendly ones. In Bangladesh, the person who has revived the usage of natural dye is Ruby Ghuznavi, the initiator of Aranya Crafts.

Natural dye, although not feasible for mass production, is ideal for a niche market. By its own characteristic, it is a process fit for small to medium scale production. Instead of thinking of large but numbered production units, natural dye users need to look at the industry with small but numerous units. Usually, we think of fruits and vegetables that have been grown without the use of chemical pesticides when referring to the term “organic”. Occasionally, we might also apply organic to meat, eggs, and dairy products. But, how often do we apply the term to the clothing that we wear?

The natural dyeing process is not a new one, it is age-old – one that has been known to be used by our ancestors for centuries. It is a process through which each item is made unique, and therefore each item carries a greater value of craftsmanship. The output, as a result, commands a class of its own. This art was brought back to the limelight from the edge of extinction by Ruby Ghuznavi, who has given it new life through Aranya Crafts. Her products stand by various other brands but they stand unique, since no other brand’s product solely uses natural dyes. She has raised the design value and usefulness of Aranya’s products to be able to compete in the market, although a niche one. Aranya retains a training component for national and international trainees, particularly craftspeople. Aranya has standardized 30 colourfast dyes which, singly or in combination, can provide an extensive range of colours. It has trained hundreds of craftspeople across Bangladesh as well as organized and conducted numerous international training workshops in natural dyeing techniques in countries like the U.K., Turkey, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malaysia and Nepal.

Ruby Ghuznavi is the Chairperson of the Natural Dye Programme of the World Crafts Council. This involvement occupies most of her time now, as she travels from one country to another to lead the programme and share her experiences. It’s been twenty years since she started Aranya, but natural dye has been a part of her life since earlier before. In 1986, she met the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay in Delhi at a gathering of like minds. Kamaladevi is a well-known figure in the area of arts and crafts in the Indian sub-continent, and she played a vital role in reviving the natural dye process. She became an inspiration and a guiding light to Ruby Ghuznavi. Over the years, they kept in contact and Ruby traveled to the Kalakshetra Craft Education and Research Centre, a cultural academy, to learn more about natural dye. Ruby immediately saw a potential for this particular art to be used in Bangladesh, where the required raw materials are available and where there is a need for work opportunities for the rural poor. She is grateful to BISIC and Karika, as they provided her logistical support to organize workshops in the beginning when she had first set her mind to work only with natural dye. But she felt that she needed to take up a bigger initiative to popularize the concept, and Aranya was born.

Over the last two decades, Aranya has become a commercially viable operation that has carved its own niche in the mind of Bangladeshi consumers. Ruby Ghuznavi regrets that Aranya always operates at a production level below its global demand. The combination of aesthetics and environmental friendliness keep Aranya’s products in high appeal. Designers from Europe have expressed their wishes to purchase quantities that Aranya is not alone prepared to supply, simply because of the very characteristic of the material, which cannot be mass produced. She regrets that more people have not taken up natural dyeing in the apparel industry in Dhaka.

It has become very difficult for her to continue leading Aranya, given that she is spending a lot of time conducting regular training workshops in various countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and India on natural dye. Traveling is strenuous, especially at this age. Very recently, it was in the air that Aranya’s ownership is changing hands. On asking why, Ruby Ghuznavi says, “In order to work with natural dye, it is not enough to simply understand its importance. The entrepreneur must be hands-on; he or she must know the process and its technical details well.” Unfortunately, successors in the family are too involved in their own work and careers to take up natural dyeing as their sole activity, and Ruby Ghunavi would prefer that a professional production house continues the operation under the strict terms that no chemical dye is introduced to any product which is sold under Aranya’s banner. That being said, she is still going to be involved as an adviser to Aranya. This is not a retirement for Ruby Ghuznavi, far from it, really. But her main focus is changing from being an entrepreneur to an educator. She has had a tremendously fulfilling journey working with natural dyes, and if she could go back and relive her life, she would play things out just the way they have been.

The revival of natural dye important not only from an environmental purview, but also from the point of view of safekeeping the sub-continent’s heritage. To revive the art at large, a lot more people need to become involved. This trade is easy-to-learn; therefore it may serve as a source of self-employment and empowerment of thousands of Bangladeshis. What are needed are people to follow Ruby Ghuznavi’s footsteps, and although many boutiques have opened up, none have truly been able to stand at the same level as Aranya. One factor here is that although easy to learn, natural dyeing is a process which involves strict and often difficult quality control tasks. A lot of scope exists in this area, and artists who wish to create an identity for them in the niche garments market and portray themselves as creative, unique and environmentally aware may find natural dyeing an ideal resort.

At the moment, a few NGOs are working with natural dye in the Chor areas of Southern Bangladesh. These NGOs have engaged many unemployed women in this trade in that area. Such instances may easily be replicated elsewhere in the country, especially where pockets of regional unemployment exist. Adequate training needs to be imparted about how to use natural dye in a commercially viable way before natural dye can be used to benefit Bangladesh’s rural economy.

From “Rangeen: Natural Dyes of Bangladesh” by Ruby Ghuznavi

Bangladesh has a rich repository of dye producing plants which yielded an initial set of fifteen colourfast dyes which a very short time. However, an extensive field survey carried out across the country indicated that the pernicious influence of synthetic dyes had all but eliminated this indigenous craft. Only in some of the tribal areas, nominal amounts of vegetable dyes continued to be used. Training courses conducted across the country, workshop and exhibitions held over a two year period as well as wide media coverage enabled the project to reintroduce natural dyes in this country. Since then the emphasis has been shifted from research to greater dissemination of the dyeing skills and extensive cultivation of dye yielding plants, particularly the cultivation and extraction of natural indigo. Fifteen additional colours have been added to that existing range, bringing the total to thirty standardized shades, which singly, or as compound colours, yield a wide variety of colourfast dyes. The strength of natural dyes lies in its potential for experiment and designers’ control. A small variation in technique, or combination of mordant and dye, can create tonal nuances which are not possible with synthetic dyes. There are no limits to the complex range of shades which can be developed from such combination of dyes and mordants; yet because of the inherent subtlety and warmth of natural dyes, the colours never clash or jar in any way.

The sources of natural dyes were as varied as they were prolific. With its diversity of climatic and geographic conditions, the Subcontinent possessed an immense wealth/variety of flora and fauna which yielded an array of dye producing shrubs and perennials. Basically, they did not require special care and nurturing; with time, however, al, manjistha, safflower and indigo came under organized cultivation because of their exceptional versatility. The Arthasthastra noted the increased acreage put under al and safflower cultivation purely because of their dye qualities. Over 300 dye producing plants are listed in various historical manuals. The repertoire includes fruit, flower, root, rind, extract, gall of plants, lichen, cactus cacti and lac-an incrustation on thebranches of specific trees. Rich earthy tones of rusts, browns and olives combined with brilliant scarlets and crimsons, to produce a range of textiles in resist printing, hand painting and textured weaving, unknown in other parts of the world. Indigo, the most valuable of all dyes, originated in the Subcontinent. The Greeks and Romans referred to it as “Indicum”, a product of India. Europeans were not known to have used indigo dye to any considerable extent, till the English traders gave it “the place of honour among possible exports”, in the 17th century. The technique used in India and Southeast Asia were most complex and had “little tolerance for error”. Today it remains one of the most exciting dyes, with the same requirement of highly skilled processing. Dyers of this region were famous for their reds, blues, and a host of other colours. The processes used were extremely complex, requiring numerous stages of development.

The earliest and most exhaustive account of an Indian dyer’s work was painstakingly recorded in 1734 by Mr. de Beaulieu in Pondicherry. Today, one of the few remaining intricate processes in followed by the handpainted Kalamkari craftsmen of Kalahasti, who still use some natural dyes.

Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay & Ruby Guznavi – Delhi, June 1986Rooted in religious and functional usage through centuries, the new colours, farms, and textures of the master dyer developed greatly in response to court of Delhi and later, the Great Mughals, who were instrumental in causing a remarkable promotion of indigenous textile during this period. Increased acreage of cotton and dye yielding plants was supplemented by the infusion of designs and techniques. The encouragement provided to the medieval weaver simulated experimentation with colours of exquisite tonal variations. Names like Fakhtai, Sandali, Kafuri, Falsai, Aquilquami, Dilbahar, Badshad Pasand and Jilani evoked their Persian, and Arabic origin and influence behind the emergence of this new range of dyes. Such patronage found its richest expression in the craft schools which emerged around the Mughal Courts of Delhi and Agra and the Imperial Courts of Golconda. Flair and refinement combined to create colours of extraordinary beauty and sensibility.Until as recently as the nineteenth century all colouring matters were of vegetal and mineral origin. The vivid warm colours to be found in cave paintings or in carefully restored fabrics in museums the world over, attest to the enduring fabrics in museums the world over, attest to the enduring qualities of natural dyes.

St. Jerome’s reference in Rome, to the “perennial wisdom” in terms of “the perishable dyes of India which never fade”, confirms the ingenuity and skill with which the traditional craftsmen handled mardants, when using the dyes. A mordant is the mineral used to precipitate the active principal of the dye and to fix the colour so as to make it insoluble in water or neutral soap. This technique has been known in the Subcontinent from the second millennium B.C. and had a great deal to do with the luster and performance of vegetable dyes. Pliny’s report dates it to an early period by its account of several colours resulting from a single dye a clear allusion to the genius of the Indian mordanting process. Competence in the art enabled the colours to permeate the fabric in a manner which enhanced its glow over time, rather than dull its brilliance. The earliest reference to the mordanting process in the West appears only in the first century A.D. Derived from a wide variety of course like lemon rind, kapas and bhalawan flowers, myrabalan fruits, sheep dung, alum, salts, and sulphate of iron, the mordants combined with specific dyes causing the colouring matter to adhere permanently to the fibre. The manipulation of different kinds of mordants, combined in their purity and density with the various dyes, was one of the secrets of the dyer’s art, handed down from generation to generation. Even today, it is the expertise and skill with which one handles the mordants that determines the tonal brilliance and permanence of the dyes.