Jamdani refers to the extra-weft weaving technique that is indigenous to craftsmen from Bangladesh and West Bengal. The intricate and elaborate designs are often in thin muslin cottons. This craft is highly labour and time-intensive, making it one of the most luxurious and expensive textile crafts in India. Once patronized by royalty, this fabric is a celebration of the high level of skill achievable in hand-loom weaving.
It is believed that ‘Jamdani’ originates from the words ‘Jam’ which means flower, and the word ‘Dani’ which means vase or container. Many of the traditional motifs are flowers and hence the name.
This is a supplementary weft technique of weaving, where the artistic motifs are produced by a non-structural weft, in addition to the standard weft that holds the warp threads together.
The standard weft creates a fine, sheer fabric while the supplementary weft with thicker threads adds the intricate patterns to it. Each supplementary weft motif is added separately by hand by interlacing the weft threads into the warp with fine bamboo sticks using individual spools of thread.Two weavers usually sit side-by-side at the loom and add the discontinuous weft motif separately in order to cover the motifs that appear across the weft of the fabric.
The result is a myriad of vibrant patterns that appear to float on a shimmering surface. What’s remarkable in this weaving technique is that the pattern is not sketched or outlined on the fabric. Instead, it is drawn on a graph paper and placed underneath the warp. Jamdani is a fine muslin cloth on which decorative motifs are woven on the loom, typically in grey and white. Often a mixture of cotton and gold threads are also used.