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Jamdani – The legacy of a bygone era

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Artisan Stories, Design Digest

Jam-dani or “flower pot” is the traditional technique of inserting extra warp and weft yarns on handloom to create embroidery like motifs in fine cotton muslins.Its origins lies in Mughal patronage. Legend has it that the Mughal emperors who loved ┬ásilk brocades, found them too hot to wear in the Indian summer and commissioned Indian weavers to re-create similar motifs in fine cotton. The result of this amalgamation is the jamdani weaving technique.

Jamdani is an ever evolving textile tradition.Over the centuries, the floral motifs inspired by the Mughals began to give way to new shapes like the fish motif ( owed to the influence of popular Bengali culture) and the fabric of the royals began to be used to make Dhakai sarees for women.

Today, another evolution of the craft is the need of the hour.This extremely painstaking and labor intensive technique is now a fast dwindling art. Only a few hundred jamdani weavers remain and even they struggle to survive, forced to abandon their skills in desperate pursuit of earning a living wage.

This collection is my attempt to reinvent jamdani using contemporary motifs and colors to create versatile textiles that have utility in our everyday lives. Through this effort I hope to create  market linkages that preserve the livelihood of these communities .This collection is not only a result of a design collaboration with our brand partners in Singapore, but also the outcome of a year long incubation effort with the weaver community in Bengal.

To learn more about our collaboration with jamdani weavers, write to us at [email protected]