The history of the prized jamdani weave. An Introduction.
A bird’s eye view of this fabric. Or should we say, fish’s eye view
Why here of all places? A short list
1. The fertile island and the cotton varieties. Undivided Bengal was a rich delta with great riverine systems.
2. The expertise in cotton picking and cotton spinning. Lots of skilled spinners and weavers in undivided Bengal. Traditionally, the cotton yarn was spun in West Bengal and then sent to East Bengal, now Bangladesh for weaving. Undivided Bengal therefore had both hand spinning and hand weaving expertise.
3. Trade opportunities as it is a port and many trade opportunities arose. Bengal had many foreign influences like Portuguese in Satgaon which became famous for the European looking Satgaon quilts. The French, Danish, and British also stationed themselves there. So there were many influences from those who came and settled in Bengal. They traded in textiles, and were also patrons….up to a point.
4. Many pockets of textile weaving in Bengal. Excellent raw materials from Murshidabad, Malda, wild silk or tussar, muga or natural silk. So besides cotton textiles Bengal was famous for its silks
5. Specializations emerged. The butidars of Murshisabad specialized in making buttis. Baluchari is woven narrative silks of made with Malda yarn. Batik and hand embroideries like kantha also flourished.
Ergo, Bengal reigned supreme in textiles.