Muslin spinning and weaving

In Kalna, West Bengal, we visited Rajib Debnath. He and his father Jyotish are reviving the art of muslin jamdani weaving.

The raw cotton is spun by hand into a thread finer than a hair from my head (see below). The cotton is handpicked in Kerala and Maharashtra and then spun by women with very good eyesight.

The weaving is only done in the cooler early morning and evening hours as the high humidity around mid-day can break the superfine muslin threads. Jamdani involves the insertion of a supplementary weft thread to create beautiful designs. While looking at beautiful works in the showroom, I saw a flash of brilliant blue – I asked Rajib if I could see the piece. He carefully pulled it out – it was a stunning saree, but a little out of my price range at 1.5million rupees or NZ$31,000!!

I did buy a shawl though – still blue, but smaller and not quite as exquisite…

Raw cotton ready for spinning
An antique portable spinning wheel – belonged to Mahatma Ghandi
Muslin fibre (top) compared to a hair from my head
Rajib Debnath showing us the incredibly fine reed used when weaving muslin
Weaving a Jamdani muslin saree
The Jamdani work involves use of a supplementary weft thread
The stunning muslin Jamdani saree