Jamdani – Quietness Of Jamdani
Having its origin in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Jamdani, which is more popularly called Dhakai Jamdani has always been seen as an enchanting textile. Some referred to it as ‘woven air’ while others called it the ‘flowered and figured’ muslin owing to the name ‘jamdani’ which is derived from ‘jama’ meaning flower and ‘dani’ meaning vase. Jamdani collectively stands for handwoven cotton sarees and yardages highlighting beautiful floral motifs. The creation of this elegant fabric takes its time since it is hand woven and extra weft made from slightly thicker yarn is interlaced using a shuttle with the standard weft threads to create the motifs.
As accounted by Saiful Islam in ‘Muslin Our Story’ (Drik Picture Library Limited, 2016), contemporary jamdani manufacturers continue to follow many of the age old ways of muslin-making, with the specialists still carrying out the appropriate stages of the manufacturing process. After procurement, the natural or pre-dyed yarn is washed, starched and wound on a cylindrical bamboo frame, known as natai and is left to dry. After processing the yarn, the preparation of the weft is done by inserting it in the reed while the warp is applied on the end roll of the loom. In jamdani weaving, two weavers sit side by side at the pit loom working in tandem. They work simultaneously counting the individual spools of thread across the width of the saree using a kandi, the needle. The shuttle is passed, the reed frame pulled inwards and the process is repeated all over again.
What makes Jamdani weaving process unique is the fact that the designs are not drawn on the fabric. Instead, the designs are made on a translucent graph paper which is placed under the warps. Each motif used in this technique has a unique name based on what it represents, such as panna hajar (thousand emeralds), kalka (paisley), butidar (small flowers), fulwar (flowers arranged in straight rows), tersa (diagonal patterns), jalar ( motifs covering the entire saree), dhuria (polka spots) and charkona (rectangular motifs).
There are several kinds of jamdani sarees in accordance with the types of motifs used and the patterns created. Phool Paar is a jamdani saree that has floral borders on all sides of the saree without any other motif on the body. Phool Bel Laka Konia saree is the one which has floral borders on all four sides in addition to paisley motifs at each corner. The body of this saree may have floral or geometric patterns. Padma Jaal Dhakai saree has lotus motifs woven throughout the saree in a mesh pattern, like a brick repeat pattern. Phool Bel saree refers to a floral vine border sari. Apart from floral motifs, jamdani sarees are also known to incorporate motifs of fruits, animals and birds like the Anarosh Aachol saree showcasing pineapple motifs at the corners and Paakhi Kor saree showing bird’s wings on the borders.
Jamdani is considered to be one of the most expensive fabrics in the world because it is delicately handwoven. Jamdani artisans are capable of achieving highly realistic motifs that look almost the same as a real flower, something one would think of achieving only by embroidery. However, due to price constraints, the artisans are required to simplify the motifs so that the designs are more feasible. One is mesmerized while looking at the jamdani fabric from a distance, for it seems the motifs float as the base fabric is lightweight and has a sheer feel to it highlighting only the motifs.