Jamdani, one of the finest Muslin textiles with its roots in Dhaka District, Bangladesh for centuries, but not yet legally registered. It is a hand woven, fine cotton fabric deftly embellished with intricate motifs that are expertly woven into the fabric. The historic production of jamdani was patronized by imperial warrants of the Mughal emperors. Under British colonialism, the Bengali jamdani and muslin industries rapidly declined due to colonial import policies favoring industrially manufactured textiles.
In more recent years, the production of jamdani has witnessed a revival in Bangladesh. According to Bangladesh Handloom Board, the number of Jamdani weaving units in the country is 12,383. Bangladesh's export of Jamdani was worth US$ 6.12 million in fiscal 2013-14 as against US$ 1.49 million in the fiscal 2008-09.
A year after Bangladesh enacted a law to provide geographical identity to it historical products Jamdani has yet to be registered as a geographical indicative product (GI) for lack of rules to consolidate the legal.
The law, Geographical Indicative Products (Registration and Protection) Act 2013, has not been followed by framing of rules. There are no rules yet. So, they could not register Jamdani as GI product under the act, researcher Dr Iftekhar Iqbal said.
The government has to create a legal base by formulating the rules to register the GI products, including Jamdani sarees, under the act.
Iftekhar Iqbal, a teacher of history at the Dhaka University, conducted the study, titled 'Protection of Jamdani as a Geographical Indication in Bangladesh' from September to December in 2013.
The study has found that Jamdani originated in Dhaka while the ecological context of production of cotton and finished Jamadni products are unique in the Dhaka region.
Considering all the historical, geographical, commercial and cultural contexts of Jamdani, the study suggests that Dhaka was and still is its only true centre of production. Through studies it has been established that Jamdani is Dhaka product. So, steps should be taken to register it as a GI product.
India registered Jamdani as Uppada Jamdani Sarees from Andhra Pradesh in 2009. But, UNESCO has recently recognised Jamdani as a Bangladeshi 'intangible cultural heritage of humanity'.
However, the study has shown that there is no combination of geographical, ecological, historical or commercial conditions elsewhere in the world except Dhaka where Jamdani can be produced and traded on a vast scale, both nationally and internationally. The brand name of Jamdani was first applied around mid-16th century or perhaps earlier.
Presenting historical and cultural evidences, the study claims that Jamdani has become a part of national culture and heritage of Bangladesh and such long-term cultural and historical continuity of Jamdani is not matched anywhere else in the world.
Jamdani's irrefutable connection with Dhaka is also clearly reflected in many global trade and exhibitions in both historical and contemporary times.
Iftekhar Iqbal said that Jamdani has to be a unique name, whose geographical location indicator must be Dhaka, not Dhakai Jamdani.
In other words, Dhaka and Jamdani are synonymous. Hence India's registration of Uppada Jamdani under its geographical indication law is illegal and a violation of existing Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) regulation.
He urged the government and international trade organisations to take effective measures to restore Jamdani as Dhaka's own product and heritage.
The researcher has suggested taking effective policy to restore the lost glory of Jamdani by establishing more Jamdani units.
Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu while addressing a function in the capital on Thursday said that the government has decided to establish a Jamdani Industrial Belt and Research Centre on 20 acres of land at Rupganj in Narayanganj. Some 363 Jamdani units will be installed in the belt.
Jamdani sarees has been loved by Benglai women for centuries.
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