A legend says that Emperor Aurangzeb went into fit of rage when, one day he saw his daughter wearing nothing. On his rebuke, she replied that she is wearing not one, but seven dresses covering her body. Such is the fineness of the Indian hand woven fabrics.

Walking through the narrow streets of Bengal, one can hear the magical spell of looms, the rhythmic singing of shuttles making the musical 'tak-tak'. This sound keeps reverberating in the Indian clothing culture for the past 2000 years. Hand woven fabrics have been infamous for its culture and virtues since time immemorial. Despite globalization and technology, this craft has its own evergreen place in the mind of cultural lovers.

  Ethical fabrics from Bengal:

  Jamdani is one of the most beautiful textiles of Bengal.  Jamdani means, a vase of flowers. History of this fabric dates back to the early ages, wherein mentions of the fabric are seen scripted in Arthashashtra written by Kautilya. The glory of this fabric can also be seen mentioned in the writings of Chinese, Italian, and Arab travelers. No wonder, great Roman emperors paid remarkable prices for this Indian cotton.

Basically this fabric is of unbleached cotton yarn. Alluring designs are created in an innovative way in this fabric using bleached cotton yarn so as to give a light and dark effect. Weaving methods resemble the tapestry work where small shuttles of gold and silver colored threads are passed through the weft.

Designs and Colors:

The weaving pattern combines intricate surface designs supplemented with delicate floral sprays. Saris are woven using this method are called as terchha. The part of the sari which goes over the shoulder is decorated with motifs called jhalar. The most popular design is known as panna hazaar meaning a thousand emeralds. Phulwar is yet another pattern used in jamdani fabrics, which is normally created in black, bluish black, grey and off white background hues. These patterns were in vogue and were much sought after during the Mughal period.

The traditional color of blue known as nilambari is dyed in indigo. Designs such as toradar meaning a bouquet are preserved as their family skills, and are passed down through generations. Thus, the designs and colors used in making the fabric differ from family to family, and have their own individuality.

For weaving the fabric, the elementary pit loom is used. The needle is made from buffalo horn or tamarind wood. The fabrics are further dyed using various process such as resist dyeing, tie dyeing, and other methods. Various natural materials are used in this process. Shellac is used for red, turmeric for yellow hue, pomegranate rinds for green, and iron shaving and vinegar to bring black color.

Global Market for Jamdani Fabrics:

Handlooms constitute the biggest cottage industry of India, engaging millions of looms in weaving the traditional beauty of the countrys heritage in cotton, silk and other natural fibres. One can hardly see a village in Bengal, where weavers do not exist. The region in and around Dhaka is infamous for this wonder fabric.

This exquisitely woven delicate cotton muslin fabric is admired to be one of the best among the skilled craftsmen of South Asia. Due to the skills and dexterity involved in the making of this fabric, generally, they are of high price. Despite its expensive price tags, demand for this fabric never declines.

Mostly used in the making of saris, this fabric is also used for making scarves, handkerchiefs, and many other creative applications. Outfits of this fabric has become an essential part of a womens wardrobe; especially the Bengalis. This craft is a fusion of the 2000 year old tradition of Bengal, with the blend of techniques from the Middle East. Due to its quality and exquisiteness, it is rightly called as woven with thread of winds.


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