Know Everything about a Dhakai Saree
- Posted on 10 Oct, 2022
- | Category- Saree
We know whenever you think about a Bengali, three things come to your mind at first: fish, sweet, and the saree. Yes, these three things are an integral part of our Bengali community. And if we talk about the sarees, the cupboard of a Bengali woman is always incomplete without those. You can always find different types of sarees in every Bengali woman’s wardrobe.
But do you know which saree reflects our tradition and rich heritage mostly? Well, it is the Silk saree. Dhakai sarees are distinguished by intricately designed motifs that appear to float on the surface of an almost transparent, ultra-fine fabric, offering them a magical charm that is hard to find elsewhere, search silk saree shop near me in Kolkata.
Origin and History of Dhakai Sarees
This art of textile weaving has its origins in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and is considered to be one of the finest varieties of muslin that is handwoven from cotton. Many believe that the word “Jamdani” has come from two different Persian words: “jam” and “dani.” In the Persian language, “jam” signifies flower, and “dani” signifies vase. So, this name is metaphorical of the beautiful floral motifs that adorn these attractive sarees. And this is the reason why we always notice beautiful floral motifs in every Latest silk sarees in Kolkata.
However, the Bengali version of its name is known as Dhakai Saree, which comes from its place of origin: Dhaka. You will be surprised to know that the first mention of Dhakai Sarees is found in Chanakya’s Arthashastra, which was written in the 3rd century BC! In this book, Dhakai Sarees were referred to as fine cloth that was crafted in the Bangla and Pundra region.
Besides the Arthashastra, you can find the name of Dhakai sarees in many accounts of Chinese, Arabian, and Italian traders and travelers. Sulaiman, a 9th-century traveler from Arab, did mention cotton fabrics weaved in the kingdom of Rahmi (then undivided Bengal) in his writing. He wrote that these cotton fabrics were so fine that they could easily pass through a signet ring.
However, the Islamic influences in Jamdani weaving were infused around the 12th century. As a result, the art of weaving ultra-thin and transparent motifs in a variety of colors started to appear in Jamdani weaving. Most interestingly, every technique of weaving these motif-rich fabrics bore a poetic name like Ab-i-rawan for flowing water, Shabnam for the morning dew, and Baftnama for woven wind. There is no doubt that this art of weaving Jamdani sarees blossomed under the Mughal patronage, especially at the time of Akbar’s reign.
However, as the Mughal dynasty collapsed, the weavers of this mind-blowing textile had lost the greatest patrons of their arts. At the time of British rule, the Jamdani industry experienced a massive decline in the production of this particular muslin. And the reason is quite simple. At that time, they were interested in importing cheaper industrially manufactured yarn from Britain. Towns like Madhurapur and Jangalbadi, once famous for the overwhelming Jamdani industry, then became obscured into oblivion. After the independence, many weavers migrated to West Bengal from Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), and they gave a rebirth to this fine textile art in India. Fortunately, Jamdani weaving has experienced a revival in the last few decades as a result of government and non-government support in both India and Bangladesh.
Jamdani uses an unbleached cotton yarn as its base fabric and bleached cotton yarns as the design. This creates a light-and-dark effect. Jamdani is made using both the supplementary weft technique and the standard weft technique. In the latter case, thicker threads are used to create the design on top of the sheer material. Weft threads are then manually woven onto individual spools by interlacing fine bamboo sticks between each supplementary weft motif. With these techniques, Jamdani sarees produce vibrant patterns that shine on a shimmering surface, a feature that makes them unique.
There is no doubt handloom weaving is one of the most labor-intensive as well as time-consuming methods of producing fine muslin fabric. The richness of the motifs in Jamdani weaving is the most compelling evidence of that method since it is created directly on the loom. Brocade looms were traditionally used to weave these rich motifs just after preparing the warp in a warping drum. Nowadays, the Jacquard loom is commonly used to create those intricate tapestry-type motifs to create modernized Jamdani weaving.
The weave of Jamdani is similar to that of tapestry, in which small shuttles are passed through the warp of cloth using colored gold or silver threads. There are a variety of designs, ranging from the “butidar,” which encompasses the whole saree with floral sprays, to the “tercha,” which has diagonal stripes, and the “jhalar” with floral motifs, buy silk sarees online in Kolkata.
An interesting aspect of this technique is that it does not require any sketching or outline on the fabric. Instead, an opaque graph paper is used instead of placing the warp underneath the diagram. There are many uses for this fine Dhakai muslin fabric, as it is not only used to make sarees, but also scarves, handkerchiefs, and dupattas.
Jamdani sarees come with a variant of contrasting bright colors like red, yellow, orange, green, and many more. Nowadays, there are two different popular design trends observed in designing Jamdani sarees. One is the art of self-colored style, where the color of the base and motif remain the same. And the other is the art of Jamdani weaving, in which two complementary colors are used for the inner and outer halves of the Jamdani sarees. However, the designs and colors always change over time. For example, traditionally, grey fabrics are used to create the motifs appearing on the Jamdani sarees. But as time progress, the use of other colors also appears while designing those motifs. In fact, the style of Jamdani weaving on red fabric earned huge popularity in the time of1960s.
Varieties of Jamdani Sarees
Jamdani sarees can be categorized into different varieties by the variations that each region offers. These include:
- Dhakai Jamdani
- Tangail Jamdani
- Shantipur Jamdani
- Dhaniakhali Jamdani
Now, let’s learn about those variants of original latest silk sarees in Kolkata or Jamdani sarees one by one.
- Dhakai Jamdani
This type of Jamdani saree is made in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and is treated as the original and the finest Jamdani saree with the most elaborate workmanship of motif embroidery. You will be surprised to know that it takes almost 9 months to a year to complete the weaving of a soft Silk saree.
- Tangail Jamdani
This is another variant of Jamdani sarees originally woven from the Tangail district of Bangladesh. You will notice broad borders featuring lamp, fish, or lotus-like motif designs in these Tangail Jamdani sarees.
- Shantipur Jamdani
This variant of Jamdani sarees, made from Shantipur, West Bengal, has quite similarities with the Tangail Jamdani sarees. You will notice a fine texture along with elegantly decorated striped motifs in Shantipur Jamdani sarees.
- Dhaniakhali Jamdani
This type of Jamdani saree is woven in the Dhaniakhali village of West Bengal. However, it needs a tighter weaving skill compared to Shantipur and Tangail Jamdani sarees. You will always notice bold colors in the Dhaniakhali Jamdani saree with contrasting borders. No doubt, as this type of Jamdani saree is hugely influenced by Bengali culture, sometimes you may notice a pictorial representation of beautiful village life on the pallu of those sarees.
Apart from the varieties of Jamdani sarees, there are many popular motifs exclusively designed for weaving those sarees. These include:
- Tersa for motifs with diagonal patterns
- Jalar for motifs evenly covering the entire saree
- Duria for motifs with polka spots
- Butidar for motifs with small flowers
- Fulwar for motifs with flowers arranged in straight rows
- And charkona for rectangular motifs
Since Dhakai sarees are considered one of the world’s finest saree, the soft Silk saree price is relatively less expensive. But nowadays, you can find lots of Jamdani sarees with a mixture of fabrics, and they are available in different price ranges.
Current State of the Art in India
Despite all the plus points, the art form has witnessed a decline as the weavers of Jamdani sarees don’t perceive this profession as rewarding anymore. They always stare at a miserable future as uncertainty is all that is left with their profession. The lives of these skilled artisans are in enduring crisis, where signs of denial and distress are supreme. They are loaded by the weight of mounting debt to local mahajans as banks refuse their lending. And this is true for both countries: India and Bangladesh.
In India, the new generations like Jamdani, but they don’t like it just as a saree. However, there is some evidence of experimental work with Jamdani fabric by famous Indian fashion designers in recent times. They treat Jamdani sarees as one of the finest and most expensive materials to work with. So they always find endless possibilities and opportunities to create new designs with this beautiful weave.
For example, designer Gaurang Shah is one of those fashion designers who have showcased the Jamdani weaves on the ramp many times. This outstanding fashion designer has worked extensively with this rich form of textile design and always aims at reviving his passion and love for this beautiful fabric not only in India but all over the world. He considers Jamdani as the perfect expression of India’s elegant, diverse, and detailed heritage.
In his Jamdani sarees, we will notice intricate designs that are brought to life with smart touches of Dhakai work that have stolen the limelight in many international fashion shows. However, he always believes that the ultimate credit for each Jamdani creation should go to the countless weavers who have devoted their time and skills to complete the final product.
Current State of the Art in Bangladesh
The current state of this famous art is more severe in Bangladesh. There is no doubt that Bangladesh exports Jamdani sarees with rich and fine qualities to a number of countries all over the world, including India, the USA, Canada, Italy, and Middle Eastern countries. However, 80% of their Jamdani sarees are exported to India alone.
Over the last few decades, the main Jamdani-making belt in Bangladesh has been situated on the banks of the river Shitalakhya. But nowadays, this place is under severe threat with waste from mills, factories, and settlements. So, the time has come to understand that the Jamdani industry can only outlast if the market is inflated.
Fortunately, the production of Jamdani sarees has experienced a revival in recent days due to several governmental as well as non-governmental initiatives. Besides that, UNESCO has recently declared weaving Jamdani as the Cultural Heritage of Humanity. So, many entrepreneurs nowadays show their interest in supporting the countless Bangladeshi weavers to revive the Jamdani industry.
At the same time, the government is showing its utmost commitment to re-establishing this industry by making direct contact with the weavers. Besides that, the government has established a Jamdani Palli near the country’s capital, Dhaka. Apart from the governmental initiatives, many governmental and non-governmental organizations like the National Institute of Design (NID, Shanto Mariam University of Creative Technology, Radiant Institute of Design, and others are constantly helping designers create new Jamdani designs.
Solutions to Revive the Dhakai Jamdani Industry
If we look at the challenges that the Dhakai Jamdani industry is currently facing, we can find two key parts of this challenge. The first key part points to a socio-economical duty that is particularly important to revive the Jamdani industry. As per this duty, a strong initiative is very much needed to make Jamdani weaving a broad-based grassroots activity to offer the weaving community and the ancillary traders a viable option rather than a low-paying sector.
The second key part relates to incorporating creative and aesthetic ideas along with a prominent vision into the minds of the weaving community to make this famous art of Jamdani weaving relevant to the lifestyle and choices of modern-day’s customers. As mentioned earlier, the new generations love the art of Jamdani weaving, but they want to look at it more than a saree. Since they follow western fashion, they really like to see the art of Jamdani in western outfits. So, designers should work to incorporate the Jamdani weaving art in western outfits.
The biggest challenge this sector is currently facing is to enhance the skills of weavers at the village level with the help of master weavers and supervisors. To make it possible, we should introduce lots of skill-enhancing training programs to upgrade the skills of the weaver community. At the same time, we should pay our utmost importance to enriching their loom infrastructure and helping them to adapt to newer techniques to produce more artistic designs on Jamdani sarees.
Besides that, it is particularly important to properly promote and advertise the product so that it can attract a large number of young potential buyers. Since this product is not a western outfit made from traditional fabric, we have to take calculated steps in choosing advertising media to achieve national and international recognition. For example, we can target internationally recognized fashion magazines to publish a feature story about Jamdani sarees.
We firmly believe if we fail to deliver the above initiatives, our next generation will not be attracted by the business prospects and the capabilities of Jamdani weaving. Luckily, the situation is changing quickly as the new generation of Jamdani weavers continues to forward the art of weaving latest saree shopping in Kolkata.
One thing we should never forget, Dhakai or Jamdani sarees should not be seen only as sarees. It actually reflects the rich, elegant, diverse, and detailed cultural heritage of our country. It is intrinsically entwined in the lives of the weaver community, who are constantly fighting to keep an ancient tradition alive.