Arising from an exotic blend of Mughal support with ancient Hindu traditions, Jamdani (or Dhakai Jamdani) sarees represent one of the finest and one of the most ancient forms of weaving tradition that originated from Bengal. Mainly characterized by intricately designed motifs these sarees float on the surface of transparent, ultra-fine fabric, giving it a majestic charm that is hard to find elsewhere.
The word ‘jamdani’ is considered to be of Persian origin, derived from ‘Jam’ (meaning flower) and ‘Dani’ (meaning vase). Mention of Jamdani was found in Kautiliya’s “Arthashastra” and during the Gupta Period between 4th to 6th centuries AD. It is during the Mughal Rule that the weavers of Dhaka, who had been weaving this fabric for centuries, received great royal patronage. This evidence bears reference to the fact that Jamdani weaving was originally developed under Mughal Emperor. And all the Mughal emperors appreciated the excellence of Jamdani weaving. And yes, it was during the Mughal period, that the finest variety of muslin fabric was produced with beautiful floral and figured motifs. This period was considered the golden age for Dhakai muslin with the skill of weaving Jamdani grew into par excellence.
However, with the decline of the Mughal dynasty and subsequent British conquest of India, the trade continued to flourish for a while and a number of Jamdani muslins were exported to Europe. And, with the coming of the 19th century, cheap quality of muslins was manufactured at Britain and imported to India. This led to a severe downfall of jamdami weaving tradition in India, especially in Bengal.
Yet adapting to changing tastes and trends, the jamdani weaving tradition has survived during the modern times. And after the partition of Bengal in 1947, many Hindu weavers from Bangladesh migrated to India and had settled themselves in West Bengal. And started with the tradition of jamdani weaving yet again. However, the art of Jamdani weaving was revived with the great support of the government and non-government organizations in both India and Bangladesh , in the last few decades.
Jamdani sarees are generally woven on the brocade loom. In this method, weft technique of weaving is used. Here the artistic motifs are produced by a non-structural weft, in addition to the standard weft that holds the warp threads together. The standard weft creates the pure fabric. However, the supplementary weft with thicker threads add the intricate patterns to it. This results to the various type of patterns that appear to float on a shimmering surface. This is indicative of the fact that, jamdani weaving is an extremely skillful, laborious and time-consuming work. Some it could take months or even years to complete this saree.
Earlier the jamdani fabric were produced using 100s x 120s of cotton yarns for warp and weft. And 4 to 6 ply cotton yarn were used for the extra weft in the saree. They were either white or dyed in various colours. Zari borders were also added later. However, these days jamdani sarees are woven in cotton yarn ranging from 60s to 100, using steel reeds of 68 – 72s count.
Pure cotton was used to weave the original Jamdani sarees in Dhaka. And dhakai jamdani comes in a variety based on motifs or region.
Though the finest quality jamdanis with intricately designed motifs of thousand emeralds, paisley, floral, jalar, etc. were originally found in Dhaka. However, there are also other variety with traditional borders like Tangail Jamdani, Shantipur Jamdani and Dhaniakhali available in Bengal. Many of these are finely textured and also appear in elegantly striped motifs.
Modern day Jamdanis are finely woven in a blend of cotton and silk, and sometimes in pure silk. Vibrant colours are also added to the fabric along with contemporary designs.
Unlike, any other e – commerce marketplace, Kiukart as a new e – commerce craft house is not just trying to promote all the traditional designs across the globe. But it is trying to celebrate true craftsmanship of the J
amdani weavers through their marvelous designs and colours at fairly affordable prices.