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Dress (sari)

The making of jamdanis is practiced in the Gangetic plain, in and around Dacca, Tanda and Benares, India. The master weaver sits with his assistant at the loom, inserting threads to make the necessary patterns. The threads are lightly stiffened with rice or barley starch to make them stronger and easier to work with. The resulting patterns appear to hover over the translucent cloth.

Where was this textile created?

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Woven Air

Dress (sari)
Asia: South Asia, Bangladesh
Late 18th to early 19th century
Woven cotton brocaded with cotton and gold thread
109 cm x 447 cm
Gift of Thomas Kalman
T85.0492 Textile Museum of Canada

Jamdanis, the delicate cotton muslins of Dacca, Bangladesh, have long been known by poetic names such as woven air, running water and evening dew. If there is such a thing as a textile poem, the jamdani is it – minimal in its construction, with an economical yet lyrical use of imagery. This sari features a gossamer thin warp and slightly thicker weft. The inlaid patterns are made with fine cotton threads, grouped in fours to form a flat ribbon.

The most famous of the jamdanis, or webs of woven air, is the “King’s muslin” of the Moghul period. It contained such fine threads that it could only be woven during the monsoon season when the high humidity made the threads soft and pliable.

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