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Bangladesh's Jamdani Sari
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
08 Jul 2015

In December 2013, the Intellectual Property Association of Bangladesh (IPAB) celebrated a major success as Bangladesh's Jamdani Sari weaving tradition, a labor-intensive and time-consuming form of hand loom weaving is recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District.

A sari is the traditional garment worn by women in the Indian subcontinent, made up of a long strip of unstitched cloth, ranging from five to nine yards in length, which can be draped in various styles. The most common style is for the sari to be wrapped around the waist with one end then draped over the shoulders with the other. The Jamdani Sari is among the oldest styles, at more than 5,000 years old! Some people think that the sari was influenced by Greek or Roman toga, which we see on ancient statues. However, there is no solid historical evidence to this effect.

The sari is essentially designed to suit local conditions in the subcontinent. There are at least six varieties of Bengal handlooms, each deriving its name from the village in which it originated, and each with its own distinctive style. Dhaka was especially renowed for saris of fine muslin, a tradtion that carries on today. Jamdani is basically a transformation of the world famous Dhakai Muslin. According to their variety, fineness and patterns the traditional Dhakai Muslins were divided into specific categories. Among them, Aab-E-Rouhan, Shabnam, Sarband and Jamdani muslin were the most famous. Over the years the first three of these have vanished from history.

The production, marketing and export of Jamdani has somehow maintained its continuity. Dhaka has a history of only four hundred years from 1610 A.D., but the history of the cotton clothes of the region reveals more ancient traditions. Although most of the history of Jamdani weaving os lost in the mists of antiquity, it's known that trade in the fabric was established at least 2,000 years ago.

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Jamdani Sari 01
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

A Bangladeshi weaver designs a Jamdani Sari in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 02
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

A Bangladeshi weaver designs a Jamdani Sari in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 03
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

A Bangladeshi weaver designs a Jamdani Sari in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 04
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

A Bangladeshi weaver designs a Jamdani Sari in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 05
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

Portrait of a Bangladeshi weaver of Jamdani Saris in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 06
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

A Bangladeshi weaver designs a Jamdani Sari in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 07
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

Portrait of a Bangladeshi weaver of Jamdani Saris in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 08
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

A Bangladeshi weaver designs a Jamdani Sari in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 09
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

A whole saller of Jamdani Saris shows a piece from his collection in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 10
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

Jamdani Saris are made from the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 11
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

A whole saller of Jamdani Saris shows a piece from his collection in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 12
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

A Bangladeshi weaver designs a Jamdani Sari in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 13
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

A Bangladeshi weaver designs a Jamdani Sari in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 17
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

A Bangladeshi weaver designs a Jamdani Sari in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 18
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

A Bangladeshi weaver designs a Jamdani Sari in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 19
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

A Bangladeshi weaver designs a Jamdani Sari in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 20
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

A Bangladeshi weaver designs a Jamdani Sari in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 21
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

A Bangladeshi weaver designs a Jamdani Sari in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 23
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

A Bangladeshi weaver designs a Jamdani Sari in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 24
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

A Bangladeshi weaver designs a Jamdani Sari in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 25
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
07 Jul 2015

A Bangladeshi weaver designs a Jamdani Sari in the village of Rupganj Thana in the outskirts of Dhaka.

Jamdani is the finest Muslin textile produced in Bangladesh's Dhaka District. This time consuming and labor-intensive form of hand loom weaving has been declared intagible cultural world heritage by UNESCO.

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Jamdani Sari 14
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
13 Jun 2015

A model shows off a Bangladeshi traditional Jamdani Sari in Dhaka on 13 June 2015 when the Intellectual Property Association of Bangladesh (IPAB) celebrated the Jamdani Sari being recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

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Jamdani Sari 15
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
13 Jun 2015

A model shows off a Bangladeshi traditional Jamdani Sari in Dhaka on 13 June 2015 when the Intellectual Property Association of Bangladesh (IPAB) celebrated the Jamdani Sari being recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

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Jamdani Sari 16
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
13 Jun 2015

A model shows off a Bangladeshi traditional Jamdani Sari in Dhaka on 13 June 2015 when the Intellectual Property Association of Bangladesh (IPAB) celebrated the Jamdani Sari being recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

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Jamdani Weaving: Ancestral Tradition ...
South Rupshi, Bangladesh
By Karim + Jenny
29 May 2015

Text by Jenny Gustafsson and Photos by Karim Mostafa
At first glance, South Rupshi looks like any other village in the Bangladeshi countryside. Tea stalls line the roads, kids play in the mid-day heat. Rickshaw-drivers pedal their decorated bikes. But something sets it out from other villages. Everywhere, bundles of yarn are left to dry in the sun. People on their porches spin threads onto spindles, scarves flow in the wind. South Rupshi is the ancestral home of a proud tradition in Bangladesh: the age-old jamdani weaving.

These days the village weavers are busy. The demand for saris is growing, the handmade fabrics are sold to customers all over Bangladesh and India, and exported abroad. Last year, UNESCO declared jamdani an intangible cultural heritage, stating its importance in Bangladesh as “a symbol of identity, dignity and self-recognition”. But things used to be different. Only a few decades ago, traditional weaving was a forgotten heritage.

Until sari entrepreneur Monira Emdad came and brought it back to memory. “In the early 80’s when traveling in rural Bangladesh, I came across hand-woven saris, more beautiful than I had seen anywhere else. I started bringing them to Dhaka, selling them from a small tin shed,” she says. Her efforts started a jamdani revival, which has meant the craft is now passed down to the next generation – providing an alternative to a rural workforce which otherwise is pushed into low-paying jobs with unsafe conditions. “This is much better for us. We can stay in the village and work nearby our families. And it’s not dangerous, we only use our brains here,” says weaver Mohammad Azim.
FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

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'Weavers of the Sky:' Peru's Handwove...
Chinchero, Peru
By Marta Tucci
29 Dec 2014

Traditional handwoven fabrics embody the living history and culture of the Peruvian highlands. Textile patterns with expressive names such as Mayu Qenqo (meandering river) or Pumac Makin (puma footprints) tell tales of the geography and events of the Andean region and its history over thousands of years. 

Up to this day, Quechuan communities from the highlands have been the keepers of culture and sustainers of an ancient yet difficult lifestyle in absolute synchronicity with the Peruvian earth, the Pachamama. These weaving traditions date back to pre-Columbian civilisations, and continue to be of great importance as living symbols of indigenous cultural identity. 

The region of Chinchero (3780 meters) in the province of Urubamba, is home to several Quechua communities. While men farm the land and harvest potatoes, barley and quinoa to feed their families and sell at nearby markets, women raise llamas and alpacas for yarn, spin on drop spindles, and weave cloth on backstrap looms while tending to their flock, or letting food cook over a fire, just as their forebears had done before them. 

While Chinchero has traditionally relied on farming for financial sustainability, demographic and social changes over time have had a detrimental effect on these communities on several levels. Competition with large agricultural corporations means that local farmers can no longer rely on farming to financially support their families, and women who would traditionally weave based on their family’s needs increased their production to sell in local markets. 

By the 1970s, as a result of the exponential growth of tourism in the Sacred Valley brought along mainly by the popularity of Machu Picchu, local traditional weavers started to change their production, using aniline dyes instead of natural ones and making simple patterns on more homogenised non-traditional fabrics to keep up with the increasing demand of tourism. These new textile designs no longer reflected the ancient weaving traditions of these communities, and much of their history, culture and identity has been at risk of being lost and forgotten. 

In some of the less transited areas of the highlands however, some small local communities still preserve their traditional and noble way of life despite the increasing difficulties they face, from farming the land, to weaving the sky, passing down their knowledge from older to younger generations, hopefully for many years to come. 

Weavers of the Sky documents the work of a group of Andean women from the community of Piuray who up to this day preserve the ancient weaving traditions of their ancestors. 

FULL ARTICLE UPON REQUEST