Rakhain weavers busy making warm clothes ahead of winter
Over 400 people belonging to a hundred Rakhain families in coastal districts Patuakhali and Barguna are now passing busy time, weaving warm cloths ahead of winter season.
"We weave different kinds of warm cloths like shawls, sweaters, neckties, and mufflers, in addition to shirt pieces, lungis, and napkins, using traditional handloom," said Manua, 35, a Rakhain at Mistripara in Kuakata area.
Manua's mother Antheang and brother Ubathen are also engaged in the job, weaving various cloths round the year and their products are very popular, especially to tourists coming to Kuakata and adjacent areas.
The Rakhain handloom products are sold at different shops in Kuakata of Patuakhali and Taltali of Barguna district and tourists who visit there especially in the winter season are the main buyers of these items.
Depending on quality and size, a shirt piece sells for Tk 300 to 500, shawl Tk 400 to 800, muffler Tk 170 to 250, lungi Tk 250 to 400, bag Tk 30 to 400, saree Tk 800 to 1,200, bed sheet Tk 300 to 600.
"Warm cloths produced by the Rakhains have special design and patterns and are comfortable to use. These are cheap too," said Mizanur Rahman, teacher of Bakerganj Government College in Barisal district, who bought some warm clothes during his visit to Kuakata recently.
This correspondent found Rakhain woman Mamache, 25, and her mother Mathuse, 40, weaving a shawl in front of their house at Mistripara.
They run their five-member family with the job.
"We weave cloth with handloom but we have to compete with machine-run products. We need electricity-run auto weaving machines to survive the challenge. Besides, problems like rise of cotton price need to be addressed," said Mathuse.
"Price of cotton doubled in last five years. The government should give subsidy for the weaving industry as many Rakhain families are dependent on it," said Enayet Hossain of Taltali area, who supplies different types of cotton for the handlooms in Patuakhali and Barguna, after buying the item from Dhaka.
Uchachi Babu, president of Patuakhali district unit of Buddhist Welfare Association, urged the government to provide financial and technical help to ensure survival of the industry run by over 400 people of around 100 Rakhain families in Patuakhali and Barguna districts.