M3 Features

Muslin to make a comeback

March 16, 2014

Muslin, the finest cotton fabric that India has ever produced, is being revived so that the ‘fabric of the nawabs’ could be reintroduced in the market in a new avatar and also at a reduced cost sometime next year.

The idea is to preserve the tradition yet render it a contemporary look. And for that the legendary yarn is being dyed so that it bears colours, strengthened so that the cloth lasts longer, designed so that each fabric could be product-specific, and treated for it to become 80% wrinkle-free, if not 100%.

Reviving a heritage

Kolkata CraftCombine Society (KCCS), a Salt Lake, Kolkata-based NGO drawing fabric and textile experts from National Institute of Fashion Technology and the textile technology department of Calcutta University under its banner, has tied up with the West Bengal Khadi and Village Industries Board (WBKVIB) to initiate a project titled Project Muslin to revive the legendary yarn which perished under British rule in the late 18th century.

The idea was mooted by the chairperson of KCCS, Urmy Palchaudhuri in May 2013 and was immediately grabbed by the WBKVIB authorities. A pilot project to train a handful of weavers on all the aspects was carried out for nearly 45 days at Nabadwip in Nadia in December 2013 and January 2014.

A glorious past

The muslin fabrics of Bengal abound in stories and some of them reveal that the finest muslin that had ever been produced under the patronage of the Mughals was of 1,000 count (cloth made from a yarn so fine that it is not only invisible to the naked eye but a 1,000 metres of which would weigh only 1 gram).

In West Bengal, there are primarily six districts, which can be identified as major pockets of muslin fabric: Murshidabad, Birbhum, Nadia, Burdwan, Malda and Hooghly. There are around 900 to 1,100 families engaged in muslin production.

More importantly, even though muslin is produced in some countries of West Asia, their artisans can hardly go beyond 200 count. It is only in these six districts that yarns of 500 count and more are produced in the entire world. Such fine yarns are of high demand in the international market, especially in Japan.

500-count muslin yarn is one of the finest hand-spun cloth in the world now

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Comments (3)
priyanka Reply
August 11, 2014
good evening sir, i am looking for cotton and silk hand weavers in villages of kolkata, we do make garments and we would like to even make it more traditional by using hand woven fine fabric. Can you please provide us no. of weavers who actually weave this fabrics. thank you very much
Dipak Reply
March 16, 2014
Revival of muslin has to be a priority, as otherwise the art of making good quality muslin would be lost. And weavers in Bengal are the best for muslin.
Suman Banerjee Reply
March 16, 2014
It's really great of KCCS to try to revive high-quality muslin.
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