Textiles from Bangladesh, Exports

Jamdani - Eternal beauty

The word Jamdani means a vase of flowers (Jam -flower, dani - that which holds). It is an apt description for this exquisitely woven fabric from Bangladesh. Its weavers are considered to be among the best in South Asia even today. The fine weave and delicate embroidery like patterns have been sought after all over the world for centuries. The texture and quality is so fine that it is described as being woven with the "thread of the winds".

Jamdani has always been very expensive because of the fine quality of fabric and detailed workmanship. It was usually worn by nobility all over the world in the past. The patterns had romantic, poetic descriptions and names. Even today, jamdanis are very expensive and highly sought after. A red jamdani is a must in the trousseau of all Bangladeshi brides.

The fabric is woven very much like tapestry work. Small shuttles of colored, gold or silver threads are passed through the weft. It forms an intricate pattern in the body of the fine material. It is usually woven into six yards saris, but nowadays the material is available for kurtas for men and women. The body of the sari is scattered with delicate floral sprays – hence the name jamdani or flower vase.

The different patterns have their own, often exotic names. When a diagonal pattern of floral sprays covers the entire length of the sari, the sari is called tercha. The loose flowing end of the sari, known as the aanchal, is usually decorated with bold corner motifs, known as jhalar. The most prized design among jamdanis is known as panna hazaar (thousand emeralds). In this exquisite work of art, the beauty of floral pattern is enhanced by gold and silver thread flowers that have been interlaced in between like little precious gems.

A traditional pattern that has many variations but is an eternal favorite is the kalka or mango motif. Most elaborate weaves have the kalka in some form in their design. Many of the very fine and intricate patterns are not created any more. Some patterns that were passed down over the generations in weavers’ families have been revived, with traditional fabrics once more finding their place as sought after items. These include the traditional nilambari, dyed with indigo, and toradar. Other jamdani patterns, like phulwar, are worked on a background fabric of black, blue black, grey or off-white. Many delicate motifs are named after indigenous flowers.

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