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Jamdani Festival: Revival of century old crafts of artistic finesse

  • Published at 11:38 pm October 5th, 2019
Jamdani is a fine muslin textile of Bengal, and produced from near the Shitalakhya River Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

The exhibition began on September 6, and would continue till October 12 at Bengal Shilpalay at Dhanmondi in the capital

Angur Lata, one of the most popular traditional crafts of Jamdani, is on display for visitors at a month-long Jamdani Festival in Dhaka city.

Aimed at reviving the antique traditional craft by encouraging next young generation Bangladeshi weavers - the exhibition showcases reproductions of 100 to 200-year-old Jamdanis, as well as a collection of original antique Jamdani sarees and clothes.

Jamdani festival is a celebration of the proud heritage of Jamdani weaving in Bangladesh, which demonstrates the outstanding skills and artistic finesse of our weavers.

Around 100 Jamdani sarees, with the traditional models and illustrations, are on display under the title "Oitijjher Binirman", jointly organized by National Crafts Council of Bangladesh and the Bengal Foundation. The exhibition began on September 6, and would continue till October 12 at Bengal Shilpalay at Dhanmondi in the capital.

The festival is organized in association with World Crafts Council. The Bangladeshi partners of the festival are: Aarong, Aranya, Tangail Saree Kutir and Kumudini. 

Bangladeshi most traditional design jamdani sarees and fabrics are styled as "Bagher Para Ful", "Surmadani", "Bakulful", "Buti karukarjo", "Kolka."

The old-fashioned jamdani sarees were sourced from many international museums and private collectors, and were deposited to weavers, so that, they can reproduce them, said organizers.

“It took nearly two years for them to reproduce, and it came out successfully. The artisans made the original antique design of jamdani, and we have displayed both the antique collections and newly made one together in the fest,” said Priyanka Chowdhury, research associate at Bengal Foundation.

Aryana Bangladesh revived the black pigment for the first time through research and development just for this project. 

The artisans who weave these hand-crafted wonders are masters in their trade. Their phenomenal trade-craft is a testament to the notion that passion, dedication, unparallel patience and skills could achieve excellence without literacy or formal training or education.

The exhibit is a culmination of two years of research, exploration and practice of perfection in the craft of Jamdani weaving.

Jamdani is a fine muslin textile of Bengal, and produced from near the Shitalakhya River. Artisans live in Jamdani Palli in four areas of the Narayanganj district as they need specific weather for crafting and weaving, and areas around the Shitalakhya River are perfect for this.

The Festival is highlighting and celebrating one of the exclusive textile traditions of Bangladesh which has received UNESCO’s citation as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of Bangladesh in 2013, and the National GI Certification in 2014.

A special part of this festival is that four artisans are working on the premises, with a full infrastructural set-up for weaving two jamdani sarees based on traditional craft.

An artisan Mohammad Jamal, who has been working on Jamdani for last 23 years, said he feels proud to be a part of this re-emergence of the Jamdani craft.

Jamdani is a fine muslin textile of Bengal, and produced from near the Shitalakhya River Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

“It's my profession; I inherited it from my ancestors. Over the last two years, more than 50 weavers from Jamdani Palli and I are working to hand-craft this piece of Jamdani, and it is a significant achievement,” he said.

According to Jamal, the one Jamdani sarees, on which, he has employed himself for over eight months, costs Tk4 lakh.

Jamdani fest is displaying various crafts of traditional jamdani from Tk50,000 to Tk1-Tk1.5 lakh. Most Jamdani sarees feature white color while some sarees are woven in golden yarn silk jamdani . This Jamdani would cost around Tk75,000 to Tk1.5 lakh.

There was a special jamdani named as "Bagher Para Ful" with Surmadani of golden yarn making. "Bagher Para Ful" jamdani craft was made to look like the Royal Bengal tiger’s paw. Most jamdani saree artisans tend to feel convinced about their happy adaptability in selecting traditional flowers, plants, leaves and nature.

One jamdani saree was crafted by two weavers, but the beauty of it is that they started hand-crafting on that particular jamdani from both ends of the fabric, but at the end the saree was completed with near perfect resemblance, Priyanka Chowdhury said.

This festival tries to bring back the traditional craft which is almost non-existent in the present times, she said.

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