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Jamdani Weaving: Ancestral Tradition ...
South Rupshi, Bangladesh
By Karim + Jenny
29 May 2015

Text by Jenny Gustafsson and Photos by Karim Mostafa
At first glance, South Rupshi looks like any other village in the Bangladeshi countryside. Tea stalls line the roads, kids play in the mid-day heat. Rickshaw-drivers pedal their decorated bikes. But something sets it out from other villages. Everywhere, bundles of yarn are left to dry in the sun. People on their porches spin threads onto spindles, scarves flow in the wind. South Rupshi is the ancestral home of a proud tradition in Bangladesh: the age-old jamdani weaving.

These days the village weavers are busy. The demand for saris is growing, the handmade fabrics are sold to customers all over Bangladesh and India, and exported abroad. Last year, UNESCO declared jamdani an intangible cultural heritage, stating its importance in Bangladesh as “a symbol of identity, dignity and self-recognition”. But things used to be different. Only a few decades ago, traditional weaving was a forgotten heritage.

Until sari entrepreneur Monira Emdad came and brought it back to memory. “In the early 80’s when traveling in rural Bangladesh, I came across hand-woven saris, more beautiful than I had seen anywhere else. I started bringing them to Dhaka, selling them from a small tin shed,” she says. Her efforts started a jamdani revival, which has meant the craft is now passed down to the next generation – providing an alternative to a rural workforce which otherwise is pushed into low-paying jobs with unsafe conditions. “This is much better for us. We can stay in the village and work nearby our families. And it’s not dangerous, we only use our brains here,” says weaver Mohammad Azim.
FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

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Bangladesh weaving 02
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Mizanur, a weaver from South Rupshi outside Dhaka, working on a jamdani scarf. Jamdani is an age-old tradition, which saw its heydays during the era of Mughal rule. It was declining for a long time but is seeing a revival today.

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StŽphane "Charb" Charbonnier draws a political cartoon in the offices of Charlie Hebdo in 2012. He was among the twelve murdered when masked gunmen targeted the offices of the Parisian satire paper Charlie Hebdo on January 8.

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Charbonnier was among the twelve murdered when masked gunmen targeted the offices of the Parisian satire paper Charlie Hebdo on January 8.

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Cabu (Jean Cabut), a longtime artist at Charlie Hebdo, was one of twelve members of the satirical paper killed in the attack on their office in Paris, France.

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Cabu (Jean Cabut), a longtime artist at Charlie Hebdo, was one of twelve members of the satirical paper killed in the attack on their office in Paris, France. Pictured in the editorial office of Charlie Hebdo in January 2012, sketching a cartoon for an upcoming issue.