Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 4, Issue 11 , Tuesday March 20, 2007



Divine secrets of the handloom fraternity

Ours is a country of extraordinary versatility. From the people, food, culture, clothing to craftsmanship, one can never really tire of what Bangladesh has to offer. However, with the current increase in pressure in the work area as well as other aspects of our lives, it has become near impossible to appreciate these intricate details of our beloved motherland. Which is why, this week, in light of the great month of independence, we have decided to bring forward a few of those who otherwise go unnoticed and unappreciated- some of the crucial members of the blooming clothing sector of our country.

With the thriving of the Bangladeshi textile industry over the past few years, there has, no doubt, been an increasing enthusiasm towards fashion, thus leading to the opening of vast numbers of stores catering to fashion wear. While trusted names such as the likes of Aarong and Probortona have been around for a long time, more shops and fashion houses are being introduced to meet the endless obsession towards fashion among city-dwellers.

One of the most important components of fashion wear is the fabric used. Designers are constantly on the hunt for the type of fabric that will not only do justice to their designs, but will also meet other equally important requirements such as quality, price, and of course, comfort. From very ancient times, the skilled people of Bangladesh have mastered the art of weaving and have produced masterpieces and works of art in the form of the 'Muslin' and the 'Jamdani'. These extremely exclusive fabrics have gained international fame and reputation to the extent that they are now associated with Bangladeshi culture and heritage.

Over the years, weavers have faithfully continued upon the never-ending road of fabric making. One of the most popular fabrics today is the 'deshi taat' or handloom cloth. While most come in a variety of bright, vibrant colours, they also fulfil the three important features that are essential for the perfect fabric. Thus, they have become hugely popular among most people today. And designers of various fashion houses such as Aarong, Onjons and Probortona have adopted this very material for the purpose of designing. Apart from those at different fashion houses, one can also come across the 'deshi taat' at almost any shopping mall as well as Chadni Chawk and New Market. However, little do most of us know where this particular cloth originates.

Unknown to many, the Narsingdi district, which was once known as the 'Manchester of the East', is now the heart of the Bangladesh textile industry. Not surprisingly, therefore, this is the home of the handloom cloth. While most fabrics today are mass-produced in colossal machines and factories, this particular material is still produced piece by piece by means of a handloom.

Due to the massive increase in demand of 'deshi taat', entrepreneurs have set up weaving factories that house groups of weavers who work together. Most of these factories are situated in the Shekherchar, Baburhat area of Narsingdi district. The earlier tradition of a weaver working solo has now become extinct because they alone cannot compete with mass production, which is in great demand now. Instead, they now work at these factories for twelve hours daily where they are paid according to production. The factories operate solely on contract basis- they are given orders from fashion houses such as Aarong and Onjons to produce a certain amount of fabric, in the form of unstitched three piece sets. The colour, patterns and combination of the material during weaving is supervised by a factory's design and dyeing masters. Occasionally though, the fashion houses under which the factory works, send people to check on the level of work done, and sometimes to offer training assistance to weavers. Most of the raw materials required during weaving are collected from Madhobdi Bazar, and the weaving and handloom machines are all manufactured locally as well.

While most weavers are the traditional workers who have been in the weaving profession for many generations, there are still others who have merely taken up working in the factories as weavers. They are not provided with any form of professional training, but merely learn to master the intricate art of weaving through time and experience as they continue working. Most have been in this profession their entire lives. One, Saddar Ali claims that he has been working as a weaver for forty-one years, while others, such as Rahima and Saleha Begum both have an experience of almost thirty years.

Weaving is an intricate process that requires a lot of thought, time and effort. According to Saddar Ali, a single 'dupatta' or 'orna' takes almost over an hour to weave. Thus, each piece of handloom cloth is just as the name suggests. So, the next time you go shopping for clothes, be sure to remember those who spend a great deal of their lives in making ours a little more fashionable, as well as great deal more comfortable!

By Farina Noireet
Photo: Aarong

By the way

Conditioning Treatment: Unless you have very fine, limp hair, get into the habit of applying a deep conditioning treatment to your hair once a week. Deep conditioners are not the same as daily conditioners, and homemade preparations work really well. Coconut oil is especially good for hair conditioning. Brush your hair, wash it lightly, and then towel dry. Apply your deep conditioner and then wrap your head in a heated towel to open the hair cuticle and allow the conditioner to soak in. Leave for 10 minutes to half and hour. Then rinse thoroughly in warm water to remove the conditioner residue that remains, then cool water to close the hair cuticle.

Rinsing your hair in cool water can be a little uncomfortable, but it can do amazing things for the appearance of your hair. It closes the hair cuticle close to the shaft, which increases shine and manageability, and helps to keep hair strong. A mixture of cool water and lemon juice is even better for shine and strength (a half of a teaspoon of lemon juice in two quarts of cool water is sufficient).

On The Cover

Blooming on the cover are some fresh looks you could try for the season. For more tips, check out page03.

Make-up and styling: Farzana Shakil Hair and Beauty Salon

Photos: Munem Wasif
Model: Sagota


The Perfect Party
We've all gone to parties and we've all organised them. Nothing can be more tedious than sitting through a couple of hours of stiff conversation, awkward silences and then finally regretting not RSVP-ing in the first place. So here are a few things to remember before you throw your next big party…

Set the mood
Big or small, a party flows when you set the mood. So calculate the number of guests and see if you have a place that is suitable for cosy conversation. If not, then go the extra mile and reorganise some chairs so that people are drawn into an intimate circle. Dim the lights, light some scented candles, and if your guests are music-lovers, play some soothing instrumental tracks (but keep the volume low so that everyone can hear each other). Once your guests arrive see if they all know each other. If not, introduce them to one another. After all a party is not only about old friends, it's also a place to make new ones.

The way to everyone's heart
Irrespective of what they say, the way to everyone's heart is probably through their stomachs. So don't take the menu lightly. Plan for some h'ordevours and dips to start off with as everyone mingles. But nothing that ruins the appetite. When it's time to actually sit down and eat, make sure your menu is reflective of what your guests are likely to eat. You never know when you'll have someone at the table who is either a vegetarian or a diabetic. And presentation does count. So make sure your food looks as delectable as it tastes!

Making an appearance
If it's your party, make sure you actually attend it. Don't get so caught up in the details that you can barely give any time to your guests. After all, YOU are the prime reason they are here. Make sure to chat with each and every guest and make everyone feel at home.

After party
After each guest leaves, there's still an after party- the dishes. Don't pile them up for the day after. You don't want to wake up to dirty dishes. As for the upturned chairs (!) and dirty linen, you can leave that for the next day. So good luck on your next party and if it's still not a big hit, just blame it on the guests!

By Tahiat-e-Mahboob



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