We met up with Laura Hawkesford, a British textile artist who has worked in Bangladesh for the last year and a half, first for a VSO organisation and currently for Prabartana. Laura accompanied us on our trip to see the production facilities for Prabartana textile boutique.
We spent a long time stuck in traffic jams which gave us plenty of time to chat to Laura and get an insight into the Bangladeshi culture and the work of the NGOs here. We spoke at length about working conditions and about women’s role in the society. We learnt that women work on sometimes the most labour intensive jobs, on construction sites and road building.
We also learnt that weaving is not considered as a prestigious profession, and even though the actual weaving is still mainly done by men, the yarn preparation and dyeing is done by women too.
We visited the studio production workshop for sampling and mass market. The studio is within a textile industry zone, in Konabari, within the Gazipur area, about 1 hour drive from Dhaka. The studio has 45 weavers and 20 other textile workers working on fabrics for the saris, shawls, gamcha (a stripy multifunctional cloth also used by the rickshaw drivers), garments and yardage for Prabartana and sometimes export orders.
We were met by the manager, Amir Hussein, who has been working with Prabartana for the last 20 years. We saw all stages of the production, from natural dyeing, warp winding, threading up, and lots of weaving. They mainly use looms with 2 shafts for the plain weave ground and an adapted jacquard mechanism for the borders and woven motifs. They also have another type of loom where the threads are picked up by hand to make the brocade techniques. I have seen a similar weaving technique in Malaysia called Songket weaving but this is different still. The warps are made with super fine 82/1 single ply mill spun cotton, 100 count khadi cotton and hand spun Endi (khadi silk). Sorry about the weave talk but I can’t help myself and I hope my weaver friends and students are reading this!
See images below for examples of the weaving techniques and processes. Videos coming soon!
Please note copyright for all photographs and videos published on this blog and flickr belong to Ismini Samanidou and Gary Allson and may not be used without permission.