Jaamdani, a handwoven fabric, was originally made in cotton and muslin and called Dhakai. The tradition originated in Bengal. Jaamdani is considered as one of the finest varieties of woven muslin and like many other art forms in India, has been passed down from father to son over several generations and centuries. The earliest references to Dhakai have been found in texts written in the first century AD!!!
This art of weaving now uses silk, cotton and even linen to make sarees, dupattas and stoles. Jaamdani is a time-consuming and laborious form of weaving because of the richness of the motifs and the use of an additional, non-structural weft along with the standard weft that holds the warp threads together. More than the cost of the fibre used, it is the intricacy and length of the process that make a jaamdani piece expensive, to the extent that jaamdani sarees used to be owned mostly by royal families in the olden days.
In the mid 19th and early 20th century, Jaamdani weaving took a major hit, mainly because of the cost of the products and also because of the lower quality of muslin available. Gradually and with the help if some big designer and retail houses, good quality, original Jaamdani is back in fashion in various forms. There are now entire villages and communities in West Bengal that weave jaamdani sarees and dupattas as their source of livelihood.
Jaamdani patterns are mostly of plants, birds and floral designs. The Handicraft studio has a lovely collection of handwoven jaamdani stoles and dupattas, so do get in touch with us if you'd like to own a small piece of this rich and ancient art.