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THE DHAKAI HERITAGE

Dhaka is an ancient city of wonders. When we talk about the Heritage of this oh so
dear city, the first thing that comes in mind is Muslin, an aesthetically beautiful and
popular fabric of the 17th and 18th century. The Bengali Muslin Industry was
ruthlessly suppressed by various colonial policies, local weavers were systematically
rounded up and their hands mutilated with removal of their thumbs. As a result the
fineness of muslin was nearly lost for centuries. Although One of the finest of
qualities of muslin, ‘Jamdani’, managed to survive it’s fineness. Jamdani over time
has managed to establish itself as an epitome of elegance. Hence in 2013, UNESCO
declared weaving Jamdani as one of the Mastepieces of the Oral and Intangible
Heritage of Humanity.

Jamdani is mainly a sheer cotton fabric woven in handlooms and comes in various
exclusive and intricate floral and geometric patterns. In the Mughal Era, weavers
and designers used to dye their yarns with the colours extracted from flowers and
leaves of different plants, but overtime the production process of jamdani has
evolved impressively. In Mughal era Jamdani used to be a symbol of aristocracy and
nobility as it were only the Mughals who could afford such rich and expensive a
fabric due to the difficulty and lengthy periods of time it takes to weave a Jamdani.
It takes upto a year to weave a very intricate jamdani saree. Nowadays, weavers do
not get the right payment in exchange of their hard work. Hence, in present day,
they opt for chemical dyes instead of the vegetable dyes.

Jamdani is a worldwide hit now. a few years back. this industry was on the verge of declining. The situation was so bad that the weavers were losing all their interest in carrying forward a trade their forefathers has passed on them.It is of no question that the beauty of Jamdani is adorned by Bengali women of all walks and ages of life. However. But fortunately with the help of some big fashion houses like Aarong and Tangail Saree Kutir it was made possible to eradicate all the difficulties of the weavers. and self dignity. Not only they brought rays of hope to the weavers but they once again were able to take this heritage to a whole new level. Jamdani will forever remain a Dhakai Heritage and a Bangladeshi’s pride! . It gives the wearer a sense of cultural identity. sadly. It would not be wrong to say the world has seldom seen such an exquisite craftsmanship of this magnitude.