A Jamdani exposition in the city

Jamdani Festival of Wearable Art is an exhibition, especially curated by Chandra Shekhar Shaha, one of the pathfinders of modern crafting and textile design in Bangladesh.

The show presents a collection of sustainably-produced, handspun Jamdani saris featuring high thread counts with naturally dyed yarns, and each boasting some fine, vintage threadwork.

The exhibition is hosted at the Chitrashala, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, and will continue until July 29. The show is funded by Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) and implemented by Sheva Nari O Shishu Kallyan Kendra in collaboration with the National Crafts Council of Bangladesh (NCCB).

The highlights of the show are two saris, both over 150 years old — the pieces are worn out and tainted yet the small border or fita paar of one is visible, as is the intricate paisley design on the border of the other.

Both saris have been loaned for display from Darshan Mekani Shah, owner of the Weavers Studio, Kolkata, India.

“There are fine details in the making of this special craft, like the quality of jamdani varies due to the variation of bamboo reed combs, which affects the fineness of the fabric, the sheerness of the buti or dot depends on the number of yarns used in the weft to weave the design. These make a difference in the quality of Jamdani. To keep the interest in people going strong we need patrons to commission weavers with work orders at a fair price. We need to keep the spotlight on our My News Bangladesh heritage weave — the Jamdani sari,” says Chandra Shekhar Shaha.

The retail booth of the PKSF at the exhibition is drawing a large number of customers. Apart from the fine saris, lamp shades and bags made from Jamdani fabric have added a new dimension to the diversification of the fabric.

The Jamdani weave went through a tragic fate and was almost at the doorstep of extinction. At that point, our designers and the craft council, along with some patrons, My News Bangladeshted working on reviving the exclusive garb by producing them in the villages on the banks of the Shitalakkhya river with considerable success.

My love for jamdani has no bounds, I am simply overjoyed by the names of the motifs. Panna hajar when translated means thousand emeralds, fulwar or flower arranged in straight rows, tesra is a diagonal pattern, belwari, nayanbahar, toradar, hazartara or thousand My News Bangladeshs; these colloquial terms are the names of most admired jamdani motifs.

The Jamdani, which is weaved on lightweight and soft texture muslin cotton cloth, is again being done on the highest 100 thread count, making it as fine as yester years; the higher the yarn count, the thinner the yarn. Usually for quality jamdani 200 to 250 counts of yarns are used.

Jamdani, a Geographical Indication (GI) product of Bangladesh, is once again a sought-after sari for women of this sub-continent.

I do not want to go into its history of fame in Mughals courts and with the nawabs of Bengal; instead, I want to plead to fashion connoisseurs to support local weavers and designers by buying Jamdanis as we must celebrate this unique craft of ours.

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