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Call to keep alive dying tradition of weaving muslin

THE ASIAN AGE. | RITWIK MUKHERJEE
Published : Sep 21, 2019, 3:00 am IST
Updated : Sep 21, 2019, 3:00 am IST

Ashmore was a V&A Research Fellow for several years, helping to catalogue a large part of the museum’s South Asian textile collections.

Ashmore, who specializes in traditional craft of weaving, is famous for her seminal book Muslin published by V&A Books, London, which is a comprehensive and enlightening account on the history of fabled muslins.
 Ashmore, who specializes in traditional craft of weaving, is famous for her seminal book Muslin published by V&A Books, London, which is a comprehensive and enlightening account on the history of fabled muslins.

Kolkata: From being the pride of the undivided Bengal to being the most sought after by the Arabs and the Romans alike during the pre independence years, and from there to the beginning of large scale export and manufacturing in the UK, the US and France, muslins, the prized fabrics, has traversed a long way.

However with Indians having stopped wearing traditional dresses except on too few occasions and with the lack of high-quality yarn, the danger of losing traditional skills is ever increasing. Besides, the greater roles of intermediaries are also killing this traditional craft of muslin. There is, therefore, an immediate need to let the young generation of Indians understand the legacy of India’s rich heritage in textiles and rise up to protect the dying traditions, feels top design-Historian and Author Dr Sonia Ashmore.

Ashmore, who specializes in traditional craft of weaving, is famous for her seminal book Muslin published by V&A Books, London, which is a comprehensive and enlightening account on the history of fabled muslins.

Ashmore who was here to have an interactive session with the students of textile science, clothing and fashion studies of J.D. Birla Institute (JDBI) here, said, “Not much has changed in muslin-making tradition in Bengal and Bangladesh. One must appreciate the amount of human effort and skills required to manufacture a Jamdani saree. It takes two men 30 weeks to complete a saree. If an average muslin worker has to work 10 hours a day on producing fabric materials, how can one expect the next generation to take up this profession at an early age?”

Ashmore was a V&A Research Fellow for several years, helping to catalogue a large part of the museum’s South Asian textile collections.

Prof. Deepali Singhee, Principal of J.D. Birla Institute, who has been teaching the subject for over two decades, on her parts, said, “Dr. Ashmore’s deep insights on muslins in particular shall help our students understand the glorious history associated with the fabric that has also been described to be ‘as thin as air’. Students will greatly benefit from this interaction and will be motivated to pursue careers in the field of traditional textiles. I am sure students here at JDBI textile science, clothing and fashion studies would pick up the thread and work on reviving 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.

Tags: muslins