Jamdani saree, ‘Jam’ meaning floral and ‘Dani’ meaning Vase, is a complex art traditionally practised in eastern regions of India. Hearing Jamdani, the first thing that comes to mind is the delicate and crisp muslin fabric with intricate floral and geometrical designs famous from the region of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Cotton fabric has been the most used fabric in the SouthEastern region due to high temperatures which were overcome by the easy air breathability and soothing qualities of the cotton fabric. In the early times, Dhaka residents wore the most fine and high quality muslin fabrics. Travellers and merchants from around the world coming to Dhaka found it to be the finest quality of fabric.
What is Dhakai Jamdani?
Jamdani technique was originally practised in the region of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The climatic conditions in this location favoured the art to prosper in Dhaka. And hence the art got its name as Dhakai Jamdani.
Traditionally, Jamdani saree incorporated detailed and unique floral and geometrical motifs. These designs were intricately woven onto a delicate muslin fabric with a thread count of 400. And the Jamdani designs had a thread count around 80 to 120. Other cotton and silk fabrics hardly surpass the thread count of 80.
Depending on the designs, Jamdani sarees take 1 month or more than 3 months to complete. Jamdani is a complex and time consuming process in which the majority of the time is invested in spinning the thread to achieve the fine yarn. Amazing spinners are required for this process. They used natural dyes for the colour in the early days which has now switched to the use of chemical dyes.
In 2017 UNESCO declared the art of Jamdani as intangible heritage. The craft of Jamdani is long forgotten since the domination of machine made and western fashion. This perfect and fine count Jamdani art is diminishing through the coming ages. No one is willing to pay for the hard work of artisans required to produce this complex and time consuming art. The domination of machine-made or fake Jamdani is one of the dangers. A handwoven Jamdani of cost 10000 rupees when developed by machines can cost up to 1000 rupees. These factors have caused the artisans to leave this profession and take to modern aged work for their livelihood.
The Weaving Process of Jamdani Saree
The entire process of Jamdani is an eco-friendly process where hardly any electricity is required. It’s a labour-intensive and complex form of looming process. Unlike other weaving methods, always two weavers are required at the loom. The master weaver who gives the instruction works on the right side of the loom whereas his apprentice works on the left side following the instructions of the master weavers. The union of both works in sync to craft the Jamdani masterpiece. At first, the humble weavers remember God in their prayers to help and guide them while doing this artwork.
Yarn with measure 8’ to 18’ is inserted on the wrap for creating the motif. The motif yarn is much thicker than the weft yarn which helps create a more visible pattern. The skill of the master weaver determines the ability to conceal joins and merge the yarn into the crisp fabric. Post completion of one row the weft yarn is passed across the wrap using the metal spindle.
Weft as well as the motif yarn is set by pulling the wooden lay tightly against the previous row. The master weaver then uses a foot pedal to power or raise the double reeds. This process is repeated row by row until the fabric is completed.
Starch is applied on the saree fabric after every nine inches of cloth is woven. This process of starching is once again repeated when the saree is finished and then the saree is cut from the wrap.
This vintage art must be supported and promoted to keep it alive for the coming generations to experience these beautiful woven fabrics.
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