CLOTHES IN BANGLADESH
Bangladeshis clothing is practical for the country's hot, humid climate. Men, especially in urban areas, wear western style clothing. Older women generally don’t wear pants, and adults — and children tooo — generally don’t wear shorts. Children wear school uniforms to school.
Men in rural villages wear a skirt-like lungi (a piece of cloth knotted at the waist that extends to the ankles) with a genji (like an undershirt). Some men wear white religious clothing that includes a pajama (trousers like a western pajama bottom) and a panjabi (knee-length tunic-like shirt ). Urban men generally wear shirts and trousers. Many men wear pajamas with a panjabi when they attend prayers in a mosque.
Most women wear saris or Western style clothes. Married women wear a traditional sari (also spelled saree), a long piece of cloth wrapped around the body in a special way, like saris worn in India. Both rural and urban women generally wear saris constructed from a strip of cloth from 4.5 to 9 meters (15 to 30 feet) in length and 60 to 120 centimeters (24 to 47 inches) wide. Saris are often brightly colored and elaborately embroidered. Younger women and girls wear a salwar kameez (tunic or dress with pants).
According to the “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices”: “A more observant Muslim woman, especially outside a major city, uses the end of the sari, called the achol, to cover her head. Traditionally women begin to wear the sari at marriage. When in public women from conservative and Islamist backgrounds also wear the burka (a long overcoat and veil) over the sari. [Source: “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices”, Thomson Gale, 2006]
According to “Countries and Their Cultures”: “One of the most obvious symbols of class status is dress. The lungi is worn by most men, except those who consider themselves to have high socioeconomic status, among whom pants and shirt are worn. Also indicative of high standing are loose white cotton pajama pants and a long white shirt. White dress among men symbolizes an occupation that does not require physical labor. A man with high standing will not be seen physically carrying anything; that task is left to an assistant or laborer. Saris also serve as class markers, with elaborate and finely worked cloth symbolizing high status. Poverty is marked by the cheap, rough green or indigo cotton cloth saris of poor women.” [Source: “Countries and Their Cultures”, The Gale Group Inc., 2001]
Village Clothing in Bangladesh
In an article on Bangladeshi village life, Kamran Nahar wrote: “Usually men wear at home shirt and ‘lungi’, an indigenous long dress from waist to the foot, but while going outside choose shirt and full-pant. The common dresses for girls are ‘Salwar-Kamiz-Urna’ (trouser-long skirt and a covering for breast), but for women Sari-blouse-petticoat, all are Indian garments. [Source: “Bangladesh Culture: A Study of the South Para of Village ‘Silimpur’” by Kamrun Nahar, September 2, 2006]
“In the 1950, wealthy men put on Lungi and guernsey at home, but the poor sauntered here and there in the village without any dress for the upper body. While going outside, they chose either shirt or Punjabi and either Lungi or Dhuti [dhoti]. Once dhuti was very popular among the villagers. Sometimes they preferred trousers, but were not used to full-pant.
“Married women generally wore Sari without blouse and petticoat at home. Neither wore they Burqua for covering. But while going outside their own village, they certainly rode on the bullock-cart, which they enclosed with a Sari, so that no other unknown man could peep inside. At present, girls, even women too, choose Salwar Kamij-Urna of the latest fashions, prevalent in the near town; yet the older ones still cling to Sari. Men haven’t changed much about their home dresses, but full-pant is a must for going to office or any other place. But dhuti is no more in use now. [Source: “Bangladesh Culture: A Study of the South Para of Village ‘Silimpur’” by Kamrun Nahar, September 2, 2006]
Jewelry and Barbers in Bangladesh
Jewelry has traditionally been an important part of a woman’s wardrobe and display of wealth and a means of financial security. Gold jewelry indicates high social standing among women. Some women wear nose rings. Hindu women hake traditionally worn a tika on their forehead but are less likely to do so in Bangladesh than they would do in India so as not to draw attention to themselves.
Many children wear amulets that contain verses of the Quran to ward off illness and evil spirits. Many women used to wear glass bangles (a some still do). The jingling of glass bangles was a common sound. Poor women possessed only couple of them. Rich women had different bangles to go with each sari.
In Bangladesh barbers often massage your shoulders, hands, temples and even your eyelids. Some people wear a basket-like cane “mathal” for protection from the rain. Others use banana leaves as umbrellas.
Muslin fabric appeared sometime around A.D. 500 and reached the peak of its popularity sometime between the 15th and 16th centuries. It gets its name from Mosul, a place in Iraq where it was traded with Europeans. Sultana Yasmin wrote in the Daily Star: The places near Dhaka such as Rupganj, Kapasia, Sonargaon, Junglebari etc were well known for weaving high quality muslin. It is created from the corpus cotton grown in Kapasia. The thread was so delicate and soft that it had to be worked on in the early hours of the dew laden morning. That way the moisture would keep the thread pliable lest the heat and dryness of the afternoon caused it to snap. In fact Dhaka was the source for some of the finest muslin pieces. The best muslin saris are such that an entire outfit can be folded and tucked into a matchbox. As a result it has taken pride of place as Dhakai Muslin in the Victoria Albert Museum in England. [Source: Sultana Yasmin, Daily Star, July 13, 2004]
“In Dhaka the industry reached its height of glory during the Mughal era. The royal women folk preferred to swathe themselves in the luxuriously soft material. Nur Jahan and Mamtaz Mahal took full advantage in aiding their beauty. When the English took over the Subcontinent, they found this beautiful material to be a threat to their own textile industries, which were far inferior in quality, so it was off with the fingers for the weavers, and thus the industry met a sad end.
“The present day muslin saris are a bit different in the sense that these made with a different thread and in a different weaving process. This work in mainly carried on at the Mirpur Benarasi Ward. The outfits are gorgeous with heavy work, which determines the price. Mainly these are worn during festivities and special occasions like weddings.”
Traditional Art of Jamdani Weaving:Recognized by UNESCO
The traditional art of Jamdani weaving was inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list in 2013. According to UNESCO: Jamdani is a vividly patterned, sheer cotton fabric, traditionally woven on a handloom by craftspeople and apprentices around Dhaka. Jamdani textiles combine intricacy of design with muted or vibrant colours, and the finished garments are highly breathable. Jamdani is a time-consuming and labour-intensive form of weaving because of the richness of its motifs, which are created directly on the loom using the discontinuous weft technique. [Source: UNESCO]
Weaving is thriving today due to the fabric’s popularity for making saris, the principal dress of Bengali women at home and abroad. The Jamdani sari is a symbol of identity, dignity and self-recognition and provides wearers with a sense of cultural identity and social cohesion. The weavers develop an occupational identity and take great pride in their heritage; they enjoy social recognition and are highly respected for their skills. A few master weavers are recognized as bearers of the traditional Jamdani motifs and weaving techniques, and transmit the knowledge and skills to disciples. However, Jamdani weaving is principally transmitted by parents to children in home workshops. Weavers — together with spinners, dyers, loom-dressers and practitioners of a number of other supporting crafts — form a closely knit community with a strong sense of unity, identity and continuity.
Shital Pati Weaving of Sylhet Also Recognized by UNESCO
The traditional art of Shital Pati weaving of Sylhet was inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list in 2017. According to UNESCO: Shital Pati is the traditional art of making a handcrafted mat by weaving together strips of a green cane known as ‘Murta’. The mat is used by people all over Bangladesh as a sitting mat, bedspread or prayer mat. [Source: UNESCO]
The main bearers and practitioners are weavers living mostly in the low-lying villages in the greater Sylhet region of Bangladesh, but there are also pockets of Shital Pati weavers in other areas of the country. Both men and women participate in collecting and processing Murta, with women being more involved in the weaving process. The craft is a major source of livelihood and a strong marker of identity; primarily a family-based craft, it helps to reinforce family bonding and create a harmonious social atmosphere.
Mastery of the technique commands social prestige, and the practice empowers underprivileged communities, including women. The government promotes awareness of the element through local and national craft fairs, and Shital Pati communities are increasingly being organized into cooperatives to ensure the efficient safeguarding and transmission of the craft and guarantee its profitability. Safeguarding efforts involve the direct participation of the communities concerned and the practice is primarily transmitted from generation to generation within the families of craftspeople.
Lungis and Shalwar Kameez in Bangladesh
Men in rural villages wear a skirt-like lungi (a piece of cloth knotted at the waist that extends to the ankles). Some rural men tie up their lungis, especially when they do work, so they look like a loincloths. Sometimes they wear vests instead of shirts or go shirtless. They used to wear dhotis (loose pants that could be pulled up) like Gandhi wore. Many rickshaw-pullers in Dhaka and elsewhere wear lungis. Men often tie up their lungis when they do field worl or grip them when they wade in waist-deep water.
Anika Hossain wrote in the Daily Star: “The lungi, after all, was and continues to be the most comfortable, convenient piece of clothing ever to be invented. Slip it on, tie and knot and you’re good to go. In the kind of hot weather that Bangladesh is known for, it provides plenty of ventilation, your own personal air conditioning system. Millions of men have been wearing it for occasions ranging from weddings to going to bed, a part of work and play, on a daily basis, for centuries. And it’s not just Bangladesh that has shown an inherent appreciation of the lungi ― many other countries in the sub-continent too have long bonded with the comforts of this airy, sarong-like garment, making it part of the cultural consciousness of various regions. [Source: Anika Hossain, Daily Star, April 29, 2013]
The “shalwar kameez” — the knee-length tunic shirt with loose-fitting trousers underneath — is the national dress of Pakistan but is also worn in Bangladesh, particularly by girls and unmarried young women. It is worn by both sexes in Pakistan. Some men wear it Bangladesh. Sometimes the men’s version is spelled shalwar kameez; while the woman’s version is spelled salwar kameez. The outfit make sense in a place with hot climate and customs that require one to keep one’s body covered. For women it is more practical than a sari as it doesn’t require a lot of fiddling around with and work to put on or to keep it in place.
Effort to Ban the Lungi
Anika Hossain wrote in the Daily Star: “It is difficult to imagine anyone would be offended by the lungi...What possible crime could this most humble of garments, having served as the national attire for Bangladeshi men for as long as anyone can remember, have committed? Early this year, however, a particular group of people ― namely the Baridhara Society, the homeowner’s association of the upscale residential neighborhood of Baridhara in Dhaka, home to diplomats and other affluent folks ― deemed the lungi “substandard,” subsequently banishing it from the environs of their posh community. “We just wanted the rickshaw-pullers to put on decent clothes,” said society president Firoz Hasan. The lungi then, for the residents of Baridhara, represents poverty, and poverty is something to be concealed, an embarrassment they would like to sweep as far under the carpet as possible. [Source: Anika Hossain, Daily Star, April 29, 2013]
And just like that, the national outfit became enemy No. 1. Rickshaw-pullers were forced to pull on trousers; they said they had no choice ― it was a matter of saving their livelihoods. So what if trousers were more expensive? And what if they’re too hot and uncomfortable and difficult to pedal in? At least they keep up appearances. The instruction was enforced by Baridhara guards who began to turn away those who didn’t comply with it.
What this association didn’t expect was the soft spot that lungis occupy, even amid the trouser-wearing demographic, in Bangladeshi society. These were people who understood the simple fact that dictating what a person can and can’t wear is a clear infringement of a personal liberty, comparable to telling someone what religion they should adhere to ― no one should be able to take away that liberty at will. The lungi was now in the headlines. Indeed, the ban brought about a surprising show of solidarity from those who didn’t even know they felt so strongly about it until that very moment. Over 10,000 people signed up for a lungi march through Baridhara protesting the ban, and although the actual number that showed up for the protest was much lower, the point was made.
Happily, their efforts were rewarded, and the ban now lifted (Dhaka residents are advised to attempt a rickshaw ride to Baridhara to confirm this). Bangladesh’s High Court has also recently directed the police administration to inform it regarding their steps against the people responsible for barring lungi-clad rickshaw-pullers from entering Baridhara. The court has also issued a rule upon the government to explain why it should not be directed to take legal action against the president and secretary of the society who allegedly issued the instructions.
Women still wear saris in everyday life. Traditionally women have worn saris that exposed their midriff. This was regarded as a symbol of fertility not sexuality. The average middle-class woman owns dozens of saris. There are stores that specialize in selling saris. A sari is generally made of a single piece of cloth 4.5 to nine meters (15 to 30 feet) in length and 105 centimeters (42 inches) wide. One end of the sari is tucked into a petticoat waistband and then wrapped around the hips with soft pleats in front. The other end of the cloth is tossed over the shoulder or over the head or tucked into the left side of the waist to form a drape.
A tight-fitting, half-sleeved or sleeveless bodice may be worn underneath along with a long petticoat which reaches the ankles and is tied around the waist with a drawstring. When working the sari is pulled through the legs to form a kind of trousers. Saris are difficult for the uninitiated to put on. They consist of a two-meter-long piece of material, tucked into a slip, pleated, and worn over a short blouse. "The sari tends to pull out of the slip, and the shawl part tends to fall out.
It is said every part of a sari expresses the pleasant and sad stories of the woman who wears it. It accompanies her in all different stages of her adult life, in marriage and motherhood as well as many other human experiences. It also represents her mood and tells about the occasion for which it is worn. The way in which it is tied tells the woman’s social class.
Colors have traditionally been produced with vegetable and mineral dyes. The border and the final meter of cloth is decorated with patterns based on things like lotuses, mangoes, buffaloes and certain kinds of tree. Some elaborate saris are trimmed and decorated with gold or silver. Some saris are so valuable that when they wear out they are burned and the metal is recovered.
Different Styles of Saris
Saris can be made from a variety of materials but most are made of cotton ro silk. They are strongly connected to people’s lives and traditions. Poor women wear simple cotton saris. The best saris are made from a variety of fine fabrics and have patterns made with all-natural dyes. The rich wear silk ones or ones made with expensive sheer fibers trimmed with gold and silver thread.
Saris can be worn in a variety of ways. In the south of India the sari is often worn in the coorgi-style with pleats at the back. Poor women often wear a sari without an underskirt. Tribal women sometimes wear a shortened version of a sari that is pulled through the legs so they are like trousers. Brides have traditionally worn an elaborate sari. Over their head they wear a long piece of material. Widows have traditionally worn white saris. Every area of India has its own way of weaving that expresses the skills and feelings of its weavers.
Women in different parts of India and South Asia favor sari made with different fabrics, colors and designs. Varanasi is famous for fine silk saris with borders brocaded in silver and gold. Kashmir saris contain patterns inspired by 19th century Scottish paisley shawls. Rajasthan women wear saris decorated with tiny mirrors. Pochampallu silk saris are covered with designs of ancient origin. Saris from Tassar are made of silk from wild silk moths. Bengal is known for silk sari that are made by hand with Kantha-style embroidery that requires great skill to make. Making one of these saris can take six months or more. The silk saris and the brocade clothes of Benares (Varanasi) are among the best known in South Asia.
Bengali style saris are worn without any folds or pleats. Traditionally, the Bengali-style has been wrapped around in an anti-clockwise direction around the waist and then a second time from the other direction. The loose end is a lot longer and that goes around the body over the left shoulder. There is enough cloth left to cover the head as well. The modern style of wearing a sari originates from the Tagore family. Jnanadanandini Devi, the wife of Rabindranath Tagore's elder brother Satyendranath came up with a different way to wear the sari after her stay in Bombay. This required a chemise or jacket (old name for blouse) and petticoat to be worn under the sari and made it possible for women to come out of the secluded women's quarters (purdah) in this attire. [Source: Wikipedia]
The Indian sari has a long history. It is regarded as one of the most ancient forms of dress and one that is still worn today. Over centuries, it has changed in form and content. It has varied in designs and colors so that other dresses have come out of it even across the Indian borders.
When you think about a sari is not so different from a toga or other loose-fitting clothes worn in ancient times. Sari-like cloaks can be seen small statues from Mesopotamia that date to 2000-3000 B.C. Similar clothes were worn at the same time in Indus valley civilization in what is now South Asia. There are references to sari in ancient Sanskrit literature. The “Rig Veda”, which dates to 1200 B.C., described a bright, golden sari and perhaps about the brocade. In the heroic epic, the Mahabharata, there is a reference to the pearl-embroidered sari. Mural-paintings in Ajanta caves featured the Bandana Sari or the warp and weft weave.
In Bangladesh, terra cotta art from the Gupta period (50 BC- AD 300), depicts a woman wearing a full-skirted sari draped around her entire body. In the old days women wore a sari and nothing else—no shoes, no undergarments, nothing—because they couldn’t afford it and many men opposed it (some didn’t even like them wearing eyeglasses). Now most women wear an underskirt, a blouse, underwear, shoes. Some even wear stockings.
Saris in Bangladesh
The sari is the quintessential Bangladeshi female garment. There is possibly nothing that identifies a woman as being Bangladeshi so strongly as does the sari. It comes in more or less a single size but the weaves, textures, print, embellishment and composition vary and there is a wide multiplicity of traditional saris that exist in Bangladesh. The sari has always had a distinctive appeal in fashion and has blended in well with the Bangalee culture and heritage. Some saris designs are evergreen and have a timeless appeal. There are saris for every occasion: ranging from weddings to festivals.
Saris have been the attire of choice of both Hindu and Muslim Bengali women for centuries. and still reigns supreme for their ability to bring out the best of Bengali woman. In a country where jamdani and silk is only for the rich, hand woven saris are the choice apparel for those on a budget. This method was in use during British rule and was considered a threat to the British cloth industry. For both the weavers and the common people this type of sari became their preferred material. Taat or handloom materials have a rather heavy texture. These came in solid colours or in simple designs known as Dhakai Biti and Pabna Biti. Check and stripes were the prevalent patterns in a market until they became crowded with cheaper mass-produced Indian and Pakistani brands.
Jasim Uddin — The Field of the Embroidered Quilt goes:
I am sorry I cannot hide my tears from you
If you remember me, put on your beautiful sari
and mascara on your eyes, braid your hair properly.
Nestling in rural Bengal, amidst lush green paddy fields, punctuated by picturesque pukurs (ponds) are entire weaver villages engaged in creating saris. Weaver families from West Bengal that migrated to Bangladesh in the 1950s have helped keep alive a priceless heritage of highly stylized weaving techniques honed over generations. The handloom industry in the eastern region has had its share of bumpy rides, but Bengal handlooms have survived the ups and downs to become a household name among connoisseurs of textiles.
There are at least six varieties of Bengal handlooms, each deriving its name from the village in which it originated, and each with its own distinctive style. The undisputed queen of the range, however, is the fabled Jamdani, which in all its myriad local avtars continues to retain its original grandeur and sophistication. The original version is referred to as Daccai jamdani, although it is now produced in Navdeep and Dhattigram, in West Bengal.
Daccai Jamdani is distinguished from its mutant cousins by its very fine texture resembling muslin and the elaborate and ornate workmanship. In Bangladesh, weavers use fine Egyptian cotton, while the Indian weavers use only indigenous raw material. The single warp is usually ornamented with two extra weft followed by ground weft. While the original Bangladeshi sari is almost invariably on a beige background, the Indian weavers are a little more adventurous in their choice of color schemes. The gossamer thin black Jamdani with its splash of multi colored linear or floral motifs sprinkled generously all over the body and border and crowned with an exquisitely designed elaborate pallu is a feast for the eyes.
The Daccai Jamdani is woven painstakingly by hand on the old fashioned Jala loom, and many take even up to one year to weave a single sari. It feels supple to the touch and drapes gently to reveal the contours of the wearer.
Sultana Yasmin wrote in the Daily Star: Historians cannot exactly determine when jamdani came about but it is well known that the descendants of the muslin weavers kept this trade alive. Jamdani also needs climatic conditions for proper development. It also requires a humid environment and that is why many weavers set up their business alongside riverbanks. Its creation is different from other fabrics in the sense that it does not use needles or the jacquard process. The craftsmen use tiny wooden or bamboo spikes to draw the intricate designs that consist of geometrical shapes. [Source: Sultana Yasmin, Daily Star, July 13, 2004]
“It is unthinkable for a Bengali woman not to have a jamdani sari in her wardrobe. It is a classical piece that makes any woman stand out in a crowd. Amazing designs can be found at Aarong, Mayasir, Nipun, Kumudinin, Prabartana etc. Then there's the Hawkers Market, Mouchaak and New Market. Of course, if you want alternative styles just head off straight to Demra or Rupganj.
Types of Bangladeshi Saris
In Bangladesh there are mainly three different kinds of woven saris, Pabna, Dhakai and Tangail, each having its strong characteristics that is clear and unmistakably unique. Cotton jacquard border: These are pure cotton weaves and the ground is sometimes plain solid in a single colour but it is observed that the interest lies in developing grounds with various assimilation of warp and weft yarns. This easily creates formation of checks and stripes. Implementing three or more colours can be rather interesting as the designs can reflect complex structure in weave. The model is wearing one such sari with an exceptional composition.
Tangail baluchar: These are Tangail's take on the baluchari sari's that are traditionally woven in the Burdwan district state of Bengal in India. This is a time honored weave. In its truest form these saris demonstrate integrated designs that reflect mythical stories in the end piece and borders. Figurative designs are almost like a repetitive tapestry in a more engineered form. In Bangladesh however baluchori's usually display fantasy floral, paisleys, and geometric patterns woven in high quality mercerised cotton yarns. You will find the model dawning an ivory and red sari with a stunning end piece
Tangail jamdani: This is a kind of Tangail weave, which is developed with the essence of Dhakai jamdani. Although the name suggests having some elemental similarity it is indeed no way parallel to the Dhakai's of Bangladesh. There is only a likeness in design composition. For example it may have a similar diagonal pattern on the ground or suggest a lattice motif structured similar to a jamdani but the foundation of weaving are developed with a contrary vocabulary of technique. The model is displaying one such distinct Tangail sari in Boishakhi colours.
Jacquard Tangail: The entire piece is developed using jacquard instrumental addition to the loom. The beginning middle and the end of the sari reflect the aesthetics of the tanchoi banaras sari. The black sari worn by the model is greatly influenced by European Art Deco pattern. I share this from previous studies where it is clearly examined that in the late 1890's master weavers from Banaras visited England and returned with wallpaper sample books later incorporating such designs in traditional weaves. Reminiscent of damask style wallpapers, these designs still play an influential role in sari designs today.
The dupatta is a simple piece of clothing that can draped loosely over the shoulder, head or upper part of a woman’s body. It is worn throughout the Indian subcontinent and can used as as a veil, head scarf, belt, scarf or sash. In Pakistan, it is part of the women's shalwar kameez outfit. In Bangladesh it is worn with a sari or but is less important because the loose end of a sari can used to cover the hair or as a veil.
Mark Magnier wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “The South Asian dupatta, which lies somewhere between its religious cousins — the shorter head scarf popular in Turkey and Indonesia and the take-no-prisoners niqab and abaya worn in Saudi Arabia — is such a fixture of” Muslim South Asian “culture that many women here say they feel naked without one. [Source: Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2012]
“And while it may grow longer or shorter, wider or narrower, plainer or more extravagant with fashion’s whims, it’s a long-standing fixture in this conservative Islamic country, with a role in bolstering izzat, or modesty and respect. Nearly all Pakistani women wear a dupatta, at least occasionally. “It has a multitude of uses,” said designer Rizwan Beyg, who outfitted the late Princess Diana — she declined to wear a dupatta with his ensemble — on one of her visits to Pakistan. “While its main use is to cover the boobs, butt and head, it can also be a sash, even a belt.”
“Essence of femininity, grist for film and literature, political statement, cultural icon, albatross, these few ounces of cotton or silk fabric have woven their way across Pakistan’s shoulders, history and fashion runways, morphing from protest symbol to political must-have to sometimes-burdensome accessory demanded by Islamic fundamentalists.
“The key to the dupatta’s staying power is its versatility, its champions say. In the course of a day, an urban...woman may switch roles from entrepreneur to ingenue to pious daughter, in keeping with this country’s nuanced and often-contradictory sense of self. The dupatta, which can be wrapped tightly around the head, left on the shoulders, hung from the side or dropped altogether, helps in navigating these social shoals.
“The river of fabric is also forgiving, easily masking pregnancy, obesity and aging, as the bonbons build up, necks sag, hairlines recede. “You can cover up a lot with your dupatta,” Sohail said. Ornate dupattas are de rigueur at weddings and funerals, and some women have as many as 25 of varying materials and patterns.
Traditional Weaving Hangs in Bangladesh Despite Massive Textile Industry
According to Reuters: Bangladesh's long tradition of homespun fabrics had been overshadowed in recent years by cheap, imported synthetic and machine-produced textiles. But the one million weavers seem to have bounced back in a country that boasts of the exquisite jaamdani, one of the varieties of the Dhaka muslin or mul-mul mentioned in ancient Greek and Roman texts as a coveted luxury item. [Source: Reuters, December 3, 2005]
AFP reported: “In small tin sheds in a town outside Bangladesh's capital Dhaka, wooden looms are deftly operated by a group of men and women — some of the country's last traditional weavers — as huge garment factories churn out cheaper alternatives. [Source: AFP, September 23, 2020]
Reuters reported in 2005: “ Traditional woven cotton is back in fashion in Bangladesh with young women in the Muslim-majority country switching to home-spun fabrics and locally designed dresses. In a country known for widespread poverty and natural disasters, the run-up to last month's Eid al-Fitr festival saw people pouring into the malls of the capital in search of new designs considered compatible with Islamic traditions. ''Young Bangladeshis are not only fashion conscious, but they also want to wear comfortable clothes,'' said Shaheen Ahmed, a director of fashion house Anjan's. [Source: Reuters, December 3, 2005]
They usually opt for hand-made cottons, he said, which go well with the long flowing lehenga skirts, saris and traditional shalwar-kameez dresses Bangladeshi women wear. Local designers have caught on to the demand and are pushing domestic textiles instead of designs and fabrics from countries such as neighbouring India. ''In the last few years, the handloom products market has grown enormously. At the same time, consumers are now also very conscious about trends, patterns and weaves,'' said Khaled Mahamood, director of fashion house Kay Kraft.
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Bangladesh Tourism Board, Bangladesh National Portal (www.bangladesh.gov.bd), The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Wikipedia and various books, websites and other publications.
Last updated February 2022