After 170 years, scientists and researchers have been able to give rebirth to the Dhakai Muslin. Muslin has been not only a type of fabric for the bengali people, but also a part of the rich heritage that was long lost in the hand of British exploitation. But after the incessant effort of the researchers of Bangladesh who were fully invested in bringing back this lost gem, finally, they have become successful.
On 28th December, they were finally able to make a Dhakai Muslin Saree pass through a ring of the index finger, which is regarded to be the judging method for a real Muslin. Scientists and concerned people are now planning on cultivating the cotton which is used for this Muslin production in a large number.
Is muslin just a fabric? Speaking of the heritage of Bangladesh, there is no way to exclude muslin when talking about history. That’s why it took a team of researchers six years to regenerate muslin. Eventually, they succeeded. The way of collecting components of the fine muslin is a story!
The last exhibition of Dhakai muslin was in London in 1850. 160 years later, the traditional Dhaka muslin sari was woven again in Bangladesh. Just like that, as it was said, a whole sari melts through the ring.
GI ownership of Dhaka Muslin has already been approved. A related gazette has been published on 26 December 2020.
There are conventional that After cutting off the fingers of muslin artists, Dhaka muslin production stopped. Now muslin is also made in India. But experts says that the Dhakai muslin is Special.
That is why a group of researchers set out to make Dhaka muslin. Their six years of effort and research have paid off. Six muslin saris have been made. One of which was given as a gift to the Prime Minister by researchers.
But in the beginning, the researchers had to run from Kolkata to London to provide a piece of ‘original’ muslin cloth. The ‘Footy Corpus’ cotton tree, which is made of muslin woven yarn, has been discovered using a variety of methods. Even in this age of mechanical civilization, weavers had to use 500 counts of yarn cut to make this sari. The cloth is also woven by handloom.
In the beginning
During a visit to the Ministry of Textiles and Jute in October 2014, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina spoke of bringing back the tradition of muslin. Knowing in which areas of Bangladesh muslin yarn was made, she instructed to rescue the technology. In order to implement this directive of the Prime Minister, a seven-member expert committee was formed by convening the Chairman of the Weaving Board in Bangladesh. The other members of the committee are Professor of Botany, Rajshahi University. Manzur Hossain, Professor Shah Alimuzzaman of Bangladesh Textile University, Md. Akhtaruzzaman, Additional Director of Bangladesh Cotton Development Board, Mahbub-ul-Alam, General Manager of BTMC Dhaka, ASM Golam Mostafa, Deputy General Manager of Bangladesh Weaving Board, and Member Secretary of the Weaving Board. To Manjurul Islam. Later, seven more members were added to the committee in the interest of research. They are Professor Bulban Osman of Dhaka University, Professor M Firoz Alam of the Department of Botany, Rajshahi University, Professor of the Department of Agronomy and Agril. Mostafizur Rahman, Chief Planning Officer of the Bangladesh Weaving Board. Ayub Ali and Bangladesh Silk Research and Training Institute Rajshahi Research Officer. Abdul Alim.
“At the beginning of the work, the researchers did not have any samples of muslin cloth or cotton. Their first task was to cut the yarn from cotton and weave muslin sari to find the cotton plant.”
A project titled ‘Bangladesh’s Golden Tradition Muslin Yarn Making Technology and Recovery of Muslin Fabric (Phase I)’ was undertaken to complete this work. The leading scientist of the project is Rajshahi University Professor of Botany. Manzoor Hossain. The project director was appointed chief planning officer of the Weaving Board in Bangladesh. Ayub Ali.
At the beginning of the work, the researchers did not have any samples of muslin cloth or cotton. Their first task was to cut the yarn from cotton and weave muslin sari to find the cotton plant. Muslin cloth was needed again to make sure that the tree was a real footy corpus. Getting these two things together becomes the main challenge of this project.
In search of footy corpus
The chief scientist of the project, Manzoor Hossain, said that his team’s main task was to find out the DNA sequence of his yarn and match it with the DNA of the footy cotton plant. But there is no pattern of muslin cloth in hand, no sign of footy corpus. There were only a few books like ‘Species Plantarum’ written by Swedish researcher Carolus Linnaeus and ‘Dhakai Muslin’ by Abdul Karim. In Carolus Linnaeus’s book, it is mentioned that ‘footy corpus’ is suitable for weaving muslin cloth. It is written that this tree was cultivated in Eastern India and Bangladesh.
Professor Manzoor Hossain said the footy corpus has the potential to survive somewhere in the wild in Bangladesh. Based on this idea, it is planned to collect cotton varieties found in different parts of Bangladesh in different parts of the country and to experiment by cultivating them in their own research fields.
To find the tree, was first painted by an art student of Rajshahi University. That picture was advertised in the newspaper and broadcasted on BTV. Meanwhile, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam gave a status on his Facebook. Seeing this, the principal of a college in Kapasia area of Gazipur. Tajuddin distributed leaflets and miked at various local schools and colleges in search of footy corps. In view of this, news of this tree came from Kapasia and Rangamati of Gazipur in March 2016. The researchers went and collected samples. Then Baghaichhari, Sajek and Langdu of Rangamati; A total of 36 samples were collected from Bagerhat, Lalmonirhat and Kurigram. Samples include cotton, seeds, leaves, Stems and flowers. The researchers found a sketch similar to a species of Kapasia tree. This variety of potential footy corpus is cultivated in the field of Botany of Rajshahi University and in the field of IBSC.
From Calcutta to London
Similarly, a report was published in Prothom Alo on 11 December 2016 to procure muslin cloth from local sources. Then they get about two thousand phones. Samples of 8 fabrics are available from different parts of the country. The research team also found a sari 300 years ago while collecting samples. Examination later showed that it was actually an old silk cloth.
Not finding any muslin samples from any other source in the country, they swore allegiance to the National Museum authorities. The researchers needed a four-by-four-inch piece of covered muslin cloth. But the museum was not giving them samples at all. Even after getting permission from the ministry, the museum authorities did not give them samples of muslin. The research team spent about eight months hoping for samples from the National Museum.
Then they went to the National Museum of India in Calcutta to collect samples of muslin at one point. Experts at the museum say the muslin sari now being made in Murshidabad is made from cotton grown in South India, which is not as soft as Dhakai muslin. According to them, if you want to make Dhaka muslin, you have to find the variety from Dhaka’s vicinity and use that cotton in that area. Cotton varieties and weather have a special role in making muslin. If you want, you can’t make sari like Dhaka muslin anywhere.
“The research team also found a sari 300 years ago while collecting samples. An examination later showed that it was actually an old silk cloth.”
The research team was disappointed after failing to go to India. Professor Manzoor Hossain said that after hearing this news, the Prime Minister asked them to go to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She has seen Dhakai muslin there. Finally, in July 2016, a four-member team, including three committee members, visited the museum in London for a small muslin sample. There they found samples of muslin cloth and important information.
Finally, that footy corpus
DNA sequences of muslin cloth collected from London were extracted. Researchers have finally found a similarity between this muslin’s DNA and that of a previously collected cottonseed plant. They are convinced that this is their desired variety of ‘footy corpus.’ A local man named Abdul Aziz found the corpse. The committee gladly gave him a mobile phone.
After doing so much, however, they were allowed to enter the National Museum. The project director said they saw that only one museum turban was made of Dhakai muslin.
500 count yarn
If you weigh one kilometer of yarn and divide the yarn’s length by the number of grams, you get the count. For example, if the weight of yarn of 1000 meters length is 2 grams, then dividing 1000 meters by 2 gives 500. This quotient is counted as the count. Muslin cloth was usually woven with 500 counts of yarn. A sari requires 140 to 150 grams of yarn. The trained spinners of this project can now cut one gram of yarn in five days. In other words, if one continues to cut muslin yarn at this speed, then it should take him about two years to make yarn for a sari.
“After wandering around for a long time, they found two old women named Hasu and Nurjahan. They say their ancestors used to cut muslin yarn. They also have memories of fine yarn in their childhood.”
Making 500 counts of yarn from cotton is no small feat. This yarn will not be in modern machinery, it will be cut in a spinning wheel. Manjurul Islam, member secretary of the committee and senior instructor of the weaving board, led the work of making yarn. This time the search begins where the weavers still spin the yarn on the spinning wheel. The news comes that these weavers are still in Chandina of Comilla. They cut thick yarn on a wheel for khaddar. However, that yarn does not come to the size of the count. It can be a maximum of eight to ten counts. Yet researchers rushed there. They think that it is possible that one of their ancestors cut muslin yarn. After wandering around for a long time, they found Hasu and Nurjahan, two old women in their eighties. They say their ancestors used to cut muslin yarn. They also have memories of fine yarn in their childhood. Finding them, the research team saw the light of hope at the end of the tunnel. But they can’t cut the thread now.
Manjurul Islam said that in the end, they decided to work with the fat spinners of Khaddar. They divided them into eight groups, and each team contains five members. Each team competed to make the yarn thinner. The team is formed again with the best of each team. Thus, it took them two years to come up with the best six. All six have become trainers. It took only six months to teach 11 others with one of them. They are working with the goal of creating 100 such people.
Manjurul Islam and Dean of Textile University Professor Alimuzzaman made a new spinning wheel.
The magic of three fingers
Thinning is actually the magic of three fingers. It was necessary to discover how to leave cotton with three fingers. And this yarn is the finest on the fingers of women. All three fingers need to be kept soft enough. At first, their fingers were stiff. There was no feeling. Later they had to undergo ‘treatment’ of their fingers. The lotion was applied on three fingers in the evening, and the yarn was cut in the morning. And all three fingers have to be taken care of all the time. So that these three fingers do not get any scratch or do not cut any other thing with these three fingers.
In the evening, lotion was applied on three fingers and the yarn was cut in the morning. And all three fingers have to take care of all the time. So that these three fingers do not get any scratch or they do not cut any other thing with these three fingers.
When he went to work again, his fingers would get sweaty; then, he would bring him back to normal with powder. Concentration has been created with their training on how much yarn they will leave in one of the four gaps. Attempts have been made to increase their attention. It’s a big deal. It is necessary to control the amount of yarn release with the wheel’s rotation through full attention because it has no mechanical size.
At the weaver’s door with yarn
Manjurul Islam said, ‘There was a hope that Jamdani was made in our country. Jamdani takes 150 counts of yarn. Jamdani is actually low-quality muslin. I was optimistic about this, but in reality, it turned out that we went to the weavers’ door with 300 counts of yarn. They say it’s not possible. Khamakha is going around with these. But we did not give up. At one stage, we got that desired weaver in Narayanganj. They are Rubel Mia and Md. Ibrahim. ‘
There was a hope that Jamdani was made in our country. Jamdani takes 150 counts of yarn. Jamdani is actually low quality muslin. I was optimistic about this but in reality it turned out that we went to the weavers’ door with 300 counts of yarn. They say it’s not possible.
Manjurul Islam, Senior Instructor, Weaving Board
Thin yarn. Starch was needed to prevent corrosion from friction, but conventional starch was not working. At one stage, they were able to work using starch by feeding thin paddy. Once again, it was torn with starch and repeatedly torn. How to do it will not tear. That too was taken out. Dried. Even if you go to fill the bobbin, it breaks again and again. Every step has to be rediscovered. The same goes for making pulls.
In order for the bobbin to rotate easily in the beam, the structural aspect has to be adjusted. The beams had to be wrapped and sewn with this thin thread. Due to the thin thread, the thread gets torn as soon as it touches the finger. Half an hour of work had to be done for four hours. It is neither too cold nor too hot. The loom is placed in a hole in the ground. Muslin has a relationship with soil moisture. Water had to be kept in buckets to prevent the yarn from tearing repeatedly.
These two weavers also had to give a lot of technical training step by step in weaving cloth. At first a loom was made. Later three have been made. In this loom, Rubel and Ibrahim saw the design of the sari woven in 1810 and weaved a sari exactly.
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has about three and a half hundred Dhaka muslin saris. That sari woven in 1810 is there. In the first stage, it cost 3 lakh 60 thousand rupees to make the sari. The researchers expect that these costs will continue to decrease gradually. They have already made a total of six saris. A sari has been given as a gift to the Prime Minister.
The total cost of the project was estimated at Tk 14 crore 10 lakh. Extensive travel in six years, Kolkata-London has cost about 4 crore rupees.
Ayub Ali, director of the project, hopes the sari will be available to the public in the next two years.
The people involved in the project said that the total cost of the project was estimated at Tk 14 crore 10 lakh. Extensive travel in six years, Kolkata-London has cost about 4 crore rupees. The remaining 80 per cent of the allocation has been returned to the government sector.
Translated From Bengali
Writer: Abul Kalam Muhammad Azad