With roots to the region of Dhaka in Bangladesh (erstwhile undivided Bengal), Jamdani is derived from a Persian word, where Jam means floral and Dani means vase. Famously defined as fine loom embroidery, this complex weave is also known as, “Figured Muslin” and “Woven Breeze”. With a history dating back to centuries, the finest Jamdani is said to have thrived due to Mughal patronage during the 15th and 16th century. From Empress Nur Jehan to Emperor Shahjahan, Mughal royalty were known to be patrons of these exquisite Jamdani textiles.
Originally, the base for this intricate technique was the finest hand woven muslin and the motifs were woven with zari and cotton threads. Overtime, with the introduction and popularity of silk, variations were introduced in Jamdani. The original weaving process is done on traditional pit looms where each motif is woven separately in a discontinuous supplementary weft technique using a tool, locally known as Kandul. Jamdani remains synonymous with geometric and flora patterns, woven using heavier threads on a lighter, translucent backdrop of fabric. While the motifs are usually woven in muted shades of grey and white, colour in the weft was introduced over time.
A Real Zari Raktambari Jamdani Saree
Some of the popular Jamdani motifs include kalaka - paisley, tesra - diagonal patterns, duria - polka dots, charkona - motifs in a rectangular shape, panna hajar – thousand emeralds and bootidar – all over floral motifs, among others.
The most exquisite Jamdanis woven in real silver zari on a white base are known as Shwetambari. Other notable colours in real zari Jamdanis include Neeambari for blue, Pitambari for yellow and Raktambari for red.
A Real Zari Shwetambari Jamdani Saree
In present times, Jamdani has grown much beyond its birthplace and Nadia in West Bengal, Tanda, Jayas & Varanasi in UP and Gwalior in MP have come up as important centres of Jamdani weaving.In 2013, the traditional art of weaving Jamdani was declared a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and was registered as a geographical indication (GI) product in 2016.
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