To create awareness about the art of weaving muslin, a cotton fabric mainly produced in Bengal and Dhaka, once very popular which is dying out as few families are striving to revive the tradition. The work of these weavers was put on display at the C P Arts Centre on Eldams Road until Sunday.
No machine till date has been able to match the quality of muslin woven by hand. In fact, that has been the reason for its downfall.
Arup Rakshit of Mahatma Gandhi Gramodyog Sewa Sansthan said that the story of its destruction goes back to the days when the East India Company arrived in India. The thumb nail is used while weaving muslin and the British chopped it off to discourage the tradition of weaving the fabric.
They also destroyed all information related to this art. Muslin was destroyed from even the Albert museum in London as it was seen as a threat to modern mills. Since there is hardly any authentic reference material, they are perfecting their work through trial and error.
The count of the yarn is an indication of how fine the cloth is. While the regular fabric worn ranges anywhere from 20 to 30 counts, the best muslin has a count of 600. It is after almost seven years that they have been able to do it and the effort that goes into it is tremendous. It takes four skilled employees one month to produce 11 metres of muslin
The youngest weaver in our group is 82, Rakshit added as there is not sufficient support from the government as the focus is mainly on mills. Though the work requires exquisite skills and patience, there is little recognition.
Urgent measures need to be taken to preserve the dying art. They want to train the younger generation, lest the art vanishes. India in the 1800s was a leading producer of muslin and they hope to reverse the current situation.
Ananthoo of Tula, a non-profit social enterprise dealing with garments from Indian cotton varieties, echoes the same. Remuneration is a major factor to attract the youth. So, the weavers they work with are paid twice or thrice than the industry standards. They are trying to set a new benchmark in the industry.
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