Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 4, Issue 13 , Tuesday April 3, 2007



Twenty-five years of magical concoctions

In an age of mechanised weaving, digitised sewing and synthetic colouring, natural dyes have stood there ground for twenty-five years. But instead of fading out under the pressure of modern competitors, natural dyes have carved out a niche for themselves. And to commemorate the silver jubilee of the revival of natural dyes in Bangladesh, pioneer Arannya has arranged a month long festival called Rongeen Utshob with a score of other clothing stores.

Ruby Ghaznavi, founder of Arannya explains that the journey began in 1982 when she and others trained under BSIC through a government sponsored research and development program to bring back natural dyes. Then another two years were spent in trying to find ways of reviving the plants that were used to make these natural dyes. At that time the project was carried out by what was then called the Vegetable Dye Society. Moving on, in the 90's, they proceeded into discovering whether these natural dyes were commercially viable. And then Arannya was born as an experimental project. It was more focused on the development of these natural dyes rather than the marketing.

One of the main concerns with natural dyes was whether they could be used to meet the Bangladeshi consumers' demand for bright, vibrant colours. Ghaznavi explains that while natural dyes cannot be manipulated to produce shades such as emerald green or royal blue, they have been successfully used in creating various other shades of green and blue, vibrant shades of red and many other colours. In fact natural indigo which was once wiped out by its chemical alternative has now been revived through the efforts put behind natural dyes. The other concern was in regards to the care of naturally dyed fabric. Ruby Ghaznavi says that just like any handmade fabric such as silks or handloom material which demand hand washing or dry cleaning, naturally dyed fabrics demand that same attention. In fact they don't even need to be professionally laundered as long as they are hand washed by soap and then dried in the shade (since the sun tends to bleach out all colours in general). That does not automatically imply that naturally dyed fabrics are hard to care for. And in any case, it is not the norm for Bangladeshi homes to come attached with a washing machine and dryer. Hence the misconception that naturally dyed fabrics are hard to clean is for the most, baseless.

As far as Bangladesh is concerned, Ruby Ghaznavi proudly tells us that at a conference held in Hyderabad in November 2006, Bangladesh had the largest number of natural dye shades among all the countries that participated from all over the world. That only goes to show how far we have come in this field.

Now twenty five years later, Rongeen Utshob aims to rid consumers of these misconceptions and show them how eco-friendly natural dyes are. Accordingly all the stores that are participating will have a whole new range of natural dyed clothing and home décor items to mark this silver jubilee. And since it will during the month of Boishakh, added emphasis will be placed on colour schemes such as red and yellow or red and white to reflect the festivity as well as show the vibrancy of natural dyes.

Rongeen Utshob will start on April 6 and continue for a whole month. Stores that have joined hands with Arannya to celebrate are Kumudini, Prabartana, Kay Kraft, Tangail Saree Kutir, Shelai Kon, Bonoj Bornali, Akor, Shishu Polli, Ayan, Piran and Baachte Shekha.

In a market flooded by mass produced fabrics and generic designs, natural dyes offer a uniquely alternative choice for consumers who want to stand apart. And credit must be given where it is due: to all the people and institutions who have stood by their decision to use natural dyes. Thus we wish Rongeen Utshob luck and urge all of those who want to make a statement to check it out.

By Tahiat-e-Mahboob
Photo Courtesy: Arannya

Shop Talk

Nogordola: Creating a new wave

In 1965 Yves Saint Laurent put a composition by Dutch painter Mondrian Piet on a day dress. In 2007, Dhaka Ahsania Mission with the guidance of creative maestro Chandra Shekhar Shaha is adopting a similar approach and bringing it to everyone through its new endeavour Nogordola. Shaha and Nogordola's team of designers have invested their time in taking sections from artist Quamrul Hassan's famous watercolour Harvest, and rearranged elements of those sections to create motifs that they have then used on clothing and other products.

Shaha says that what makes Nogordola so unique is that everything was well thought out from the very start. They invested a lot of time in research and set up a studio before actually opening shop. Even the logo is geared to evoke brand recognition. Shaha says that one thing that Nogordola's products will reflect is the materials innate qualities while sporting a contemporary look.

All the products are handmade using natural materials and crafted by local artisans. Nogordola's range of products include womenswear, menswear, home furnishings, jewellery and bags and in the near future they plan to introduce childrens' wear as well. Since the store opened during the month of Boishakh, colours like red, orange and off-white are predominant in the clothing.

While this is only the beginning, Nogordola will soon introduce this “inspiration-translated” concept into all their upcoming products and future clothing lines. Nogordola opened on April 2 at house 1/A, road 13 (new), Mirpur Road.

By Tahiat-e-Mahboob
Photo: Nogordola

On The Cover

Stay cool this summer in natural fabrics and attractive vegetable dyes
Photo: Arannya


Path to PCs
It is the age of computers. But if you happen to be one of those rare people who are still trying to get by without a PC, it's time to update your life. But since you've waited this long, just don't make an impulse buy. Computers are big investments and do some careful thinking before you buy one.

Assess your needs
Before you head to the PC shop, evaluate your needs. If you are a basic user, don't get caught up in the mumbo-jumbo of LCD's and what not. Hardware or software: go for the basics but leave room to add on more stuff. And if you really don't need specialised equipment, go for combos like all in one printer-scanner-fax machine.

Keep yourself updated
Once you have a computer, it is always wise to keep tabs on the latest viruses and their cures and the usual software updates. And ever so often do make sure that you update your computer accordingly or else at one point you'll need to clean out a lot more before you can put anything new in.

While the anti-virus and anti-spyware programs will keep the system clean, it is also very important to keep the computer physically clean. Invest in some covers and make sure to keep your computer dust free. There are special brushes, fabric and hand held vacuum cleaners specifically designed for computers and investing in such tools might be a good idea too. And last but not the least, get a professional to open the central operating system (CPU) and dust it out.

Now that you know the way around the road, what are you waiting for? Go get yourself a computer!

By Tahiat-e-Mahboob



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