Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 20, Tuesday October 14, 2003







Abaran- A textile exhibition

With amazing blends of contemporary and traditional textiles, the textile exhibition- Abaran, was inaugurated at The Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts, on the 7th October. The occasion organised by the National Crafts council of Bangladesh, features the traditional Artisans of Bangladesh in an interactive exhibition.

Begum Selina Rahman, The Minister of State for Cultural Affairs inaugurated the exhibition, together with H.E. Ms. Aud Lise Norheim, the Norwegian Ambassador. It highlights the talent of both modern and veteran artisans, in both contemporary and traditional styles. The exhibition reflects the evolution and growth of textile production in Bangladesh and is also a part of the Asia Pacific Regional Assembly, which is being held in Bangladesh this year. The exhibition is open for all and runs until the 21st of October, everyday between 12-8p.m.

The display is simply stunning, showcasing old collectors items lent by the collectors themselves, fine reproductions by local artisans and innovative products using the traditional patterns by talented designers. The ambience of the Bengal Institute of Fine Arts is wonderfully thought out and creates a sense of pride for most Bangali's. With weavers, weaving and stitching with handlooms during the exhibition, the whole occasion seems to teach a lot about weaving.

One of the main attractions of the exhibition is the quality, colours and designs of each and every piece, which have been painstakingly chosen from a wide array of displays and productions. The occasion showcases the development and innovations of the textile industry over the past three decades.

The displays include nineteenth century Nakshi Kanthas from private collections with amazing stitches. The work is all done by hand, tediously. Nakshi Kantha's were generally made for 'love not money' in the past and some of the finest were made for special occasions. Designs include flowers, animals and objects of everyday life, all stitched into the cloth, giving rise to a sensational 'art'. The tradition still seems to be very popular amongst people and there are many intricate pieces of this 'art' in display at the exhibition.

Jamdani's, which have a rich tradition embedded into the history of the Sub-continent, are also on display. The jamdani's require great skill and devotion to create and this is reflected in the exhibition. Master weavers and craft organisations together created the amazing medley, although some of the pieces are from personal collections. The collection at the exhibition comprises of sarees and different samples of the stunning

The exhibition also highlights the different crafts of many
ethnic communities. Each work represents diverse traditions of weaving, and uses different techniques and designs. Samples of the crafts come from communities such as the Monipuri, Chakma, Khyang, Mro and even Garo. The exhibition displays a small history of all the communities and also showcases work from these diverse cultures. The crafts consist of pinons or sarongs, scarfs, uniquely designed head-gear, design samplers and even bed covers.

To add to all these traditions, contemporary designers have utilised these astonishing crafts and made their own creations of products starting from pillow casing to shalwar kameezes. International Designers such as Maheen Khan, Roxana Salam and Bibi Russel are also amongst the displays. This innovation in the craft is profoundly lauded by individuals in the craft world, and definitely open up a totally new dimension to the astounding traditional work of Bangladesh.

The exhibition surely broadens the horizon in the exposure to craft and has been praised by many. Steps like these open up new opportunities for many and also displays the stunning skills as well as the wonderful traditions of our country.

By Mishel Ali Khan


Embarrassing indeed!

We failed to play the national anthem in the conference of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). In presence of around 500 delegates from 48 nations, the audio system failed to play the song twice, embarrassing the entire nation.

During the nine-day conference, starting from the Bijoy Swaroni, the Bangladesh-China Friendship Centre the whole area took on a festive appearance after sundown. The streets were awash with light, and the flags, the colourful banners and festoons with slogans, and decorative gates all added to make it a celebration of colour. The only thing missing was a proper sound system and a flawless cassette to play the national anthem on
the inauguration day.

After the announcement on the day of the disgraceful incident, the delegates stood in respect of the anthem and in their utter astonishment had to sit again, as the record did not play properly. The repetition of the failure created an awkward situation. The incident turned in to a total mockery when lawmaker Moazzem Hossain had to sing the anthem in front of the participants.

It did not end there. Adding to the already humiliation of the hosts, participants from several countries discovered that their flags were hanging upside down. Some of the country delegates including Fiji and Cyprus straightened the flags themselves.

CPA delegates from Fiji, right, and Cyprus, left, take it upon themselves to invert their national flags after finding them hanging upside down during the formal launch of the CPA meet yesterday.

Everything was bungled up right from the 'go'. Right from the beginning, the 49th conference of CPA was a mess.
Even before the opening of the conference, when the delegates were arriving the arrangements were sloppy. General Secretary of Commonwealth Don McKinnon landed at ZIA but there was no reception from the host nation for him. He carried his luggage to the VIP lounge and sat there alone and was later received by Whip Razaul Bari Dina and Parliament Secretary Kazi Raquib Uddin. What is more interesting, the CPA secretary general was received earlier by Deputy Speaker, which was obviously a protocol mismatch.

That's not all, McKinnon was supposed to stay at the Sonargaon Hotel but, by mistake, he was bundled in to the bus carrying CPA delegates to Hotel Sarina at Banani. He was later re-routed. After the protocol mismatch, Speaker Jamir Uddin Sircar went to Sonargaon to meet McKinnon but the CPA desk there, in what was becoming a trend for mismanagement, could not tell him the room number of McKinnon.

In addition to a few other messy affairs, all the delegates did not get vehicles and telephones. Kenyan assistant Foreign Minister had to call his family borrowing a cell phone from a businessman. While asked about the complaints the Jatiya Sangshad whip replied, " We have a limited number of vehicles. It will be difficult for us to manage if everybody wishes to go out and roam the city". However, as far as we know, vehicles are always available when officials in the administration (Secretary, Additional Secretary, Joint Secretary, and Deputy Secretary etc.) and their families roam around and go on family visits. Secretaries use several vehicles.

While the ruling party may be blamed for the chaotic mismanagement, the Awami League's refusal to join the meeting was also a glitch for the conference. In the 92 years of CPA history, this is the first time the conference was being held without the presence of opposition party.

We understand that this was a major event and Bangladesh had never organised any events with so many foreign delegates. However, what we do not understand that when the Prime Minister visited Chittagong on 6th October to lay the foundation stone of Mohra Water Refinery Project there were 50 gates from the airport to Mohra project to welcome her. Four ministers and three state-ministers visited along with her leaving their respective office. This did not seem like a waste of taxpayer's money to anyone at the time.

It is embarrassing indeed, when we waste resources in so many unnecessary purposes and then disgrace ourselves in public by failing to play the national anthem in an international conference.

By Shahnaz Parveen


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