Jamdani is a beautiful and important part of Bengali heritage. Though anyone from this part of the world will recognize the significance of this material, it has also received international recognition in 2013 by being included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Jamdani falls into the Muslin category of cloth and is characterized by geometric or floral designs. It is possible that jamdani or something similar to today’s jamdani existed as far back as the first century AD. The word jamdani has a persian origin. ‘Jama’ means cloth and ‘dana’ means diapering or buti. The word likely means diapered cloth.
Jamdani is a woven cotton fabric. Jamdani requires lengthy and dedicated work which makes it expensive. Even though this material is mostly used for saris, it can also be used for scarves and handkerchiefs.
Despite being the most expensive product of Dhaka looms, jamdani weavers are grossly underpaid. Mosamet Rehana of South Rupshi area has 30 years of experience in crafting jamdani. She said: "We are not paid enough, compared to the work we put in behind each jamdani. As the wholesalers collect jamdani sarees long before Eid, we have to sell them at a low price. Weavers have declined in numbers because of the low pay, and for this reason, we often cannot meet the market demand."
Jamdani is a symbol of aristocracy. It takes great skill and dedication to make and is an important part of the cultural heritage of Bengal. The demand for jamdani continues to be high in the market. If skilled workers are paid a fair wage for weaving jamdani then this industry will continue to bloom.