Postcards from the Edge

of Bangladesh

Culture Vulture

In an attempt to reduce my running-out-of-time angst, I’m trying to make the best of what little time I will have left to check out Dhaka when I’m actually in the city. Yesterday was spent checking out some cultural things, all of the textile variety.

First was the opening ceremony of an exhibition of one of Bangladesh’s handicraft shops. We arrived earlier than we had planned and had to sit through speech after speech (after speech….) in Bangla, while having camera after camera shoved in our faces. I wonder if we made the 9 o’clock news again. Headline news: white people.

Then it was off to a Jamdani saree (or sari) exhibition. I’ve seen Jamdani sarees before but never really appreciated the amount of work that goes into making one. The miniscule detail is amazing, with 2 weavers working on each saree at the same time, a weaver and his/her apprentice.

And it’s weaved line by line, thread by thread, with the pattern woven into the transparent base mesh as part of the weaving process.

So this is done, thread by thread, for full 6 meter length of a saree. Man, the workmanship is just amazing. And the patience! No wonder these sarees are so expensive.

There were some fantastic saris on view, some heirloom pieces from private collections and others on sale, with the most expensive being 135,000 taka. Them’s a lot of noughts… equals about £1,350.

There is an amazing handicraft tradition in Bangladesh, that is fast being eroded by the industrial/mechanised garment industry here, making all that Gap crap for the rest of the world. It’s such a pity that such artistic and culturally rich craft is dying out.

And so my list of things to buy in Bangladesh just gets longer and loooonger. If you know where to look and WHAT to look for, you could fill a whole house with beautiful things. Which is in fact, my plan…

2 Comments»

  amanda visagie wrote @

Ja makes you think about the Gap crap we buy with such gay abandon …

  estellevisagie wrote @

It has totally made me think about all that disposal, for-one-season-only Topshop/H&M/Primark tat. All this rich handicraft tradition going down le tubes because everyone wants faster, cheaper, more! Bangladeshis included.


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