Intricate hand-woven motifs, a distinctive, slightly coarse fabric, Jamdani fabrics look like exquisite art pieces. In 2013, Unesco declared the traditional art of weaving Jamdani an 'Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity'.
It is said the word Jamdani was derived from the Persian words 'jam' (flower) and 'dani' (vase).
Originally, this fabric was the basis for muslin but that was destroyed by the East India Company. According to history, it was during the Mughal era that the flowered muslin, or Jamdani, was born and the art of making Jamdani really thrived.
Back then, Jamdani was an expensive product which only the royals and the rich could afford. For the women in the harem, a special Jamdani called 'Belwari' was made with golden borders.
Although most Jamdani motifs are geometric florals, other different ones include 'butidar' (the sharee has florals all over it), 'tercha' (diagonal stripes), or 'jhalar' (a network of floral motifs). Motifs like lotus, paisleys, vines, peacocks, diamonds etc are also found.
When textiles mills took over in the 19th century, the jamdani industry started declining. However, the government has been undertaking various initiatives for the survival of this beautiful, traditional fabric and its weavers.
Among all the types, the Dhakai Jamdani is the most elaborate one. It is also the most demanded Jamdani saree for its unique designs and colours.
In the olden days, jamdani was usually made in black, white or grey. But these days, there are vibrant shades available, along with those made with gold or silver coloured threads embedded in them for festive occasions.
Depending on the design, it can take a weaver six months to more than a year to finish one Jamdani saree. It is a time consuming process because of the extra weft technique required along with the standard weft technique.
Instead of throwing out old Jamdani sarees, you can recycle them into cushion covers, curtains etc. It is a soft fabric so it is better to make loose outfits with it.
A colourful Jamdani dupatta will brighten any occasion, as will a traditional red Jamdani saree.
If you are planning to make kurtis, kamizes etc, do not make them tight-fitted, otherwise the fabric will become torn or worn out in those tight places. Also make sure to use good quality satin or cotton lining.
Dry cleaning and airing out from time to time will keep your beloved Jamdani sarees in a good condition.