Keep alive the craft of fine muslin: Exhorts fashion historian

Glimpse of the exhibition 'Safed'. (Photo Credit: Cocoa and Jasmine)
Glimpse of the exhibition 'Safed'. Photo Credit: Cocoa and Jasmine / IANS
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Kolkata: India's young generation should understand the legacy of the country's rich heritage in textiles and endeavour to keep alive the fabled craft of fine muslin which is gradually getting lost, top design-historian and author Sonia Ashmore said here on Wednesday.

Ashmore, who specialises in the traditional craft of weaving, said that lack of high-quality yarn, the danger of losing traditional skills and the role of intermediaries are killing muslim making.

"The young generation of Indians should understand the legacy of the country's rich heritage in textiles and rise to protect the dying traditions and once again try to keep alive and revive the fabled craft of fine muslin which is gradually getting lost and is mostly done through instinct, eye and experience," said Ashmore while addressing the students of textile science, clothing and fashion studies at the J.D. Birla Institute (JDBI).

Ashmore said that not much has changed in muslin making tradition in Bengal and Bangladesh.

"One must appreciate the amount of human effort and skill required to manufacture a Jamdani saree. It takes two men 30 weeks to complete a saree," said the author of the seminal book 'Muslin'.

Ashmore's tryst with muslin began with opening drawers at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, considered to be the world's largest museum of applied and decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 2.27 million objects.

She got valuable material for research on muslin from the "dusty old documents" at the Indian section of the British Library. She has also extensively toured across Asia and Europe, meeting artisans, weavers and personal collectors of muslin.

"Indians have stopped wearing traditional dress. Also, lack of high-quality yarn and the danger of losing traditional skills and the role of intermediaries are killing this traditional craft of muslin.

"If an average muslin worker has to work 10 hours a day for producing fabric materials, how can one expect the next generation to take up this profession at an early age," she said.

Ashmore was participating in an interactive session, "In Search of Woven Air: Following the Threads of Muslin", jointly organised by JDBI and Weaver's Studio.

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