woven air

We discovered the weaving! And not just any weaving, yesterday morning we went to visit the village Vargaon Dargabari, a region near Dhaka where they produce Jamdani fabrics, the most beautiful woven textiles found in Bangladesh.

The technique resembles a tapestry technique where individual threads are woven as supplementary wefts to form geometric and floral motifs. The ground is very fine unbleached cotton, set in open density to form a gauze textile background. Jamdani fabrics are woven on a pit loom by 2 weavers working together. It is a very laborious process and a sari length (6 yards of woven fabric) can take more than 2 months to complete. See the videos below to appreciate the speed at which the weavers are working and how slowly the fabric grows!

We were greeted by Abdul Jabbar Khan, one of the head weavers of the village and we visited a number of weaving set ups. Soon we had a following of inquisitive villagers and children! I explained I am a weaver too and I was invited to sit at the loom and try my hand at this technique. MrKhan very patiently showed me how to loop the thread over the kandu, a bone tool used for the extra thread weaving(we were told it is elephant tooth?!) and soon I knew just how time consuming the weaving process is. The most beautiful jamdani cloths we saw were dyed with natural pigments (see the last pictures in the series below).

A big thank you to Ruby Ghuznavi from Aranya for organising this visit for us and her production assistant Mr Rahman for joining us!

for more information on Jamdani see



see videos of jamdani weaving and yarn preparation on








Please note the copyright for all the pictures and videos posted on the blog and flickr belong to Ismini Samanidou and Gary Allson and may not be used without permission


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5 responses to “woven air

  1. Katie Bunnell

    It’s incredible to see this laborious process and to contemplate the value of the beautiful fabric produced -where does it go, who wears it and when? Are the weavers of this fabric considered to be ‘master’ craftsmen/women? Have you seen similar processes elsewhere?

    • hello Katie
      many good questions. Yes the fabric is incredible and so is the process. We saw different qualities of fabric being woven of varying skill and complexity. Mr Khan, the weaver we met is known for the excellent quality of his jamdani textiles and he sells them through the shops and boutiques in Dhaka. The fabric is either made as a 6 yard length for a sari, and worn on special occasions, or can be bought by the yard. I haven’t seen it sold by the yard anywhere but I have seen some beautiful saris woven with natural dyed motifs at the Aranya boutique in Dhaka. The ones Mr Khan was weaving are exclusively for Aranya. The jamdani cloths are regarded as the most beautifully crafted woven textiles in Bangladesh. I have also seen imitation jamdanis, woven with continuous weft threads and then cutting off the floats, sold at much cheaper prices. These would be faster to make than the original jamdanis, though saying that anyone who has tried hand weaving can say this is relative! I read earlier that the V&A has a good collection of jamdani fabrics, mainly white with white motifs. I have also seen images of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wearing a Jamdani sari. A similar weaving technique is done in Nepal and is called Dhaka cloth.
      I need to read more and update the entry with more accurate information. We are seeing more weaving tomorrow and hope to understand and share more information. I am not sure of the master craftsman status but we are meeting the director of the Crafts Council tomorrow so we will ask!
      It is incredible to see handmade textiles at such a big scale. see the Manikgonj entry from last week to see all the women hand ebroidering and printing.

      much love to all of you and thank you for following the blog. your christmas card is still propped up on our desk in the hotel room!

      • Katie Bunnell

        hello Ismini,
        great to hear from you and thank you for your excellent images and your rich and detailed text. Your schedule seems hectic, exposing you to a wealth of handmade textiles. Do you think all these skills will continue to be important to the Bangladeshi economy?
        much love to you both,

  2. Absolutely amazing photo’s Ismini – am loving reading all your updates! Sounds like a trip of a lifetime….. xx

  3. Akis

    I don’t know how to describe my feelings following yours steps day by day. I admire your writing ,your photos,and the sensitivity of your description.You have to edit all that .Keep walking… Akis.

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