W E A V I N G   H E R I T A G E  O F   B E N G A L

Bangladesh has an exceptionally rich textile tradition, informed by the interaction of Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic and tribal influences as much as by climate and geography. The history of textiles in the Indian Subcontinent is replete with records of its beauty and excellence, with the 500-year-old fragment of madder dyed cotton excavated at Mohenjodaro bearing testimony to these ancient traditions. The woven cotton muslin of Bengal, the earliest reference to which is found in Kautilya's Arthashastra in the third century BC. Plini’s records authenticate Muslin as being the most prized import from Bengal. Dr Watson listed ‘Mulmul Khas’ as the finest, acknowledged superior to any European fabric at that time.

The tales about muslin and its gossamer quality are legion. Referred to as "woven air", it is said to have presented to royalty, five meters cloth folded into a tiny jewel box, no bigger then a matchbox. Traditionally Muslins, known as Jamdani weaving treasured from Dhaka. The Bengal fabric traveled in the 15th 16th century from Mughal’s area Dhaka through to Agra, Bokhara, Samarkhand and west in Asia. Later in 17th and 18th centuries exported to the port of Humbug. London, Manchester, Madrid, Copenhagen, and else where in European traders. The Dutch, Portuguese, Danes and the English completed and fought with each other to maintain their primary over the trade, until eventually the English East India company gained territorial control in 1757. The airiness and fineness of the muslins shown as in the 1851 Great Exhibition led to their description as "Woven air".