Lost Muslin yarn know-how recovered
The lost muslin yarn technology used to churn out exceedingly delicate fabrics much coveted in the 17th and 18th centuries the world over has been recovered by an expert team of the government.
In the ancient and medieval period, the muslin cloth made by the weavers of Dhaka became a status symbol for the rich and aristocratic class. In 1747, Dhakai Muslin exports fetched Tk 28.5 lakh, found the researchers.
The fall of the Mughal Empire, lack of patronage of the British rulers, expansion of the East India Company, Industrial Revolution in England, the imposition of high taxes on muslin and the cutting of the fingers of weavers were the main causes behind the loss of the Muslin cloth since the middle of the 19th century.
"The muslin we have made is 99 percent similar to the cloth preserved in the UK's Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Museum in Bangladesh," said M Monzur Hossain, chief scientist of the project titled 'Bangladesh's Golden Tradition Muslin Yarn Making Technology and Recovery of Muslin Fabrics (Phase I)'.
The Tk 12.1 crore project came into being after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked during a visit to the ministry of textiles and jute in October 2014 if the lost technology of muslin could be restored.
Subsequently, a committee was formed consisting of experts from the Bangladesh Handloom Board (BHB), the Bangladesh Textile Mills Corporation, the Cotton Development Board, the Bangladesh University of Textiles, Dhaka University and Rajshahi University.
The project, which started in July 2018 and wrapped up last month, started with training six weavers to churn out fabrics with 200 to 557 yarn count. Now, 75 weavers can produce such fine fabrics.
The muslin of yore was renowned for its fineness, with its yarn count starting from 250 and going up to 1,000.
"Since the project started, we have had to go through seven steps from hand-spinning cotton to fabric production and fabric making. We used lots of data from several kinds of research, which brought us success," Ayub Ali, project director and chief planning officer at the BHB.
The whole exercise cost Tk 3.9 crore, meaning about Tk 8 crore assigned to the project has been saved.
With the rest of the money, a muslin centre would be set up on 3.5 acres of land in Narayanganj, where a plant of the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation currently stands, he said.
A revised proposal has been sent to the planning commission for cotton cultivation, production of skilled spinners and weavers, purchase of machinery and construction of sheds etc.
"This project will help to restore the golden heritage of Bangladesh, which was lost almost 170 years ago," Ali said, adding that the fabric will be available to the public by next year.
For the feat, the BHB was awarded the Public Administration Medal under the Technical Research (science-based) category for 2020 and 2021 at an event yesterday.
"It is possible to earn a huge amount of foreign exchange by exporting muslin and to brighten the image of Bangladesh in the international arena," said Golam Dastagir Gazi, textiles and jute minister, at the event.
The acquisition of GI certificate and patent for muslin has created the opportunity for sustainable development and expansion of the country's weaving industry, he added.