Jamdani Palli: A village that weaves tradition

Jamdani is a symbol of identity, dignity and elegance both at home and abroad for its fine and rich muslin fabric and its motifs.

Farhana Ahmed

Farhana Ahmed

The Daily Star


A typically busy day for a weaver at the Jamdani Polli, where he is seen weaving intricately detailed designs on the fabric. Photo: Star

February 23, 2023

DHAKA – Jamdani is a symbol of identity, dignity and elegance both at home and abroad for its fine and rich muslin fabric and its motifs.

On special occasions, especially weddings, women are known to throng Jamdani Palli to buy their favourite sarees at wholesale rates.

Every Friday, buyers and traders gather at the Jamdani Palli soon after the Fazr prayers as a weekly “haat” is organised there to boost the business.

Jamdami Palli is located 3km north of the Kanchpur Bridge on the Dhaka-Sylhet highway at Noapara in Tarabo of Narayanganj’s Rupganj.

In 1991, Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), built the BSCIC Jamdani Industrial Estate & Research Center — now known as Jamdani Palli — on around 20 acres of land at the cost of Tk 6 crore.

The area is also called BSCIC Nagari where weaving Jamdani is a family business.

Families have been practising this craft for generations. The weaving skills are handed down by parents to their children through home workshops. There is no written form of teaching here.

Jamdani Palli has a great role in bringing together weavers from across the country, and that has resulted in a rich diversity of weaving traditions.

To nurture this art, the craftsmen have been gathered and given infrastructural facilities, allowing the artisans to live with their families and build an industry.

Here, the artisans, who have held on to the tradition of jamdani weaving, compete with each other to make the highest quality fabric.

Now, Jamdani is no longer limited to sarees. Craftsmen are also making three-pieces, panjabis, curtains and wall mats to meet the market demands.

There are a total of 416 plots in the industrial city. Of those, 407 plots have been allotted for Jamdani weavers and two for pumps while seven others are reserved for rural electrification, according to the website of BSCIC Jamdani Industrial Estate & Research Center.

In this village, the craftsmen weave jamdani manually. No modern device is used. As a result, making a jamdani saree can take from a week to a year depending on the scope and quality of the work.

Talking to The Daily Star, Bayezid Hossain, an industrial estate officer, said BSCIC arranged their accommodation so that the tradition of weaving this wonderful, luxuriant fabric is not lost, or scattered to far-flung regions.

There are around 1,600 “taanties” (weavers) living in Jamdani Palli at present.

“We regularly inspect the plots to confirm that the plots are being used properly,” he said.

The officer said once there was a training centre and a display centre in the area. However, both have remained closed for a long time.

But recently, the government has taken initiative to resume the operation of the display centre, the official added.

About the weekly haat, Bayezid said BSCIC has arranged the land for the haat where hundreds of Jamdani weavers and buyers gather to buy sarees at wholesale price. But BSCIC does not take any “Izara” for the land, he added.

Although Jamdani has been recognised as a Geographical Indication (GI) product of Bangladesh, it needs more publicity to brand the indigenous cloth at home and abroad, he said.

Hassan Ali, who runs his handloom at home, said he traded 30/40 sarees worth Tk 4 to Tk 5 lakh per month.

“I profit Tk 60,000-Tk 70,000 per month. If the government takes initiatives for providing easy loans to them and also for training on designs and weaving, this industry will shine more and run smoothly,” he said.

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