Woven heritage: rare Jamdani saris on display in the capital | Fashion trends

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New Delhi Age-old craftsmanship and a glorious heritage make Dhakai Jamdani magnificent in more ways than one. And telling its fascinating story, 51 museum-quality Dhakai Jamdani saris, dating from the late 19th century to pre-independence, are on display in Delhi.

Known for its translucency, lightness and quality to “pass through a wedding ring”, Jamdani is a textile originating in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Crafted in chiffon, it features abstract and geometric patterns, often accompanied by zari. Skilled weavers were given royal patronage during Mughal rule, in what is called its heyday.


More than 50 Dhakai Jamdani saris are on display at this exhibition in Delhi.

The sarees on display are from the collection of Siddhartha Tagore, who also collects Baluchari weaves. Calling these pieces – collected over a period of 15 years – works of art, Tagore says, “My interest in Jamdani is based on its interactive pattern, the delicacy with which it is woven and its evolution over the course of history. Curator Puneet Kaushik adds: “These pieces transport you to the old world, where the art of weaving was celebrated in all its glory.

The exhibition delves into the history of Jamdani in British times, when this painstakingly designed weave began to face competition from factory-produced cotton and gradually fell into decline. Also on display is a piece of Jamdani manufactured by the East India Company factory. The partition of Bengal also brought the tradition to present-day West Bengal, where weavers continue to carry on the legacy.

Weaving has also been included in Unesco’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which states that the Jamdani sari “is a symbol of identity, dignity and self-recognition, and provides wearers with a sense of cultural identity and social cohesion “.

Today, weavers campaign to revive the intricate patterns and designs of the Jamdani tradition. This exhibition is also an attempt to shed light on the rich history of the fabric, which makes each vividly patterned piece perfect to keep for posterity.

Catch it live

What: a glorious past and a bright future for Dhakai Jamdani

When: September 21 to October 4

Time: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Where: Art Gallery, Kamaladevi Complex, India International Center

Nearest metro station: Khan Market on the Violet line

Author’s tweets @siddhijainn

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