A muslin is a special type of finely woven fabric made from a special type of cotton yarn. It is known as Dhaka Muslin. It was one of the extinct finest handwoven cotton fabrics of the Middle Ages. Now Muslin Fabric is set to get a geographical indication (GI) certified. After about 170 years, cotton muslin Fabric was made in Bangladesh again GI is a name or sign used on certain products, which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin.
Cotton Muslin Fabric get GI certification
Bangladesh’s government was trying to revive the old glory of the famous muslin fabric. Bangladesh Handloom Board – HB applied for GI tag for Muslin Fabric. Industries ministry has already sent a journal to the government press for publication via the department of patents, designs, and trademarks of as a prerequisite by the law before issuing the GI certificate.
The journal in early next few weeks will be published. And the GI certificate would be handed over after two months if no objection came from abroad. Special from India. Cause, West Bengal Khadi and Village Industry Board was already applied in November 18, 2019, to the office of the Geographical Indications Registry of India for GI tag for Bengal muslin. But the application is now at the pre-examination level. It could be said a victory against India. As authentic Bangladeshi muslin is exceptional, Bangladesh secures GI certification of Muslin.
History of Cotton Muslin Fabric
The tradition of weaving in South Asia is 4000 years old. The cultivation and production of cotton in the Bangla throughout South Asia have been occupying a special place for a variety of extraordinary smooth fabrics. Dhaka was one of the places for the production and trade of muslin since ancient times. It is estimated that there are 36 different products in muslin. Muslin was made from a very thin yarn made from cotton called a footy corpus. A minimum of 300 counts of yarn was used for the hand-woven cotton muslin fabric, which was cut with a saw, making the muslin as transparent as glass.
Muslin, a brand name of pre-colonial Bengal Textile, especially of Dhaka Region, was specially produced from ‘carpus fiber’ in special weather and it was perfectly plain, even, thin and transparent. It was branded as the Dhakai Muslin. The finest sort of Muslin Sari was made of ‘phuti’ cotton. Phuti’ cotton plant locally called Kapasia grown on the banks of the River Sitalakhya.
After Jamdani, Muslin will be the 4th Geographical Indicator GI certified products after Jamdani sari, Hilsa fish and Khirsapat Mango of Chapainawabganj. Hilsa, Bangladeshi cotton Muslin fabric got recognition as GI as the fourth product. From now on muslin is only ours.
There is a story behind this GI title. How many people know that story?
In 2014. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited the Ministry of Textiles and Jute. Hasina instructed, in any case, the muslin cloth should be brought back after research. Consequently, whatever it took, all kinds of logistical support would be given to the researchers engaged in the research. Then, an expert committee was formed under the direction of Honorable Prime Minister.
A seven-member team was formed, under the chairman of Bangladesh Handloom Board. Their first task was to find the cotton ‘phuti karpas’ tree from which the yarn was cut and the muslin sari was woven. And then match the muslin yarn’s DNA with the DNA of ‘phuti karpas’ plant. But there neither a sample of muslin fabric nor of a ‘phuti karpas’ plant.
A sample of muslin is needed to complete the task. If a sample of cotton muslin fabric is found, the DNA sequence of its yarn should be taken out and matched with the DNA of the phuti cotton plant. Unfortunately, there is no pattern of muslin fabric in hand, no sign of footy corpus. There were only a few books such ‘Spice Plantrum’ written by Swedish researcher Carolus Linnaeus and ‘Dhakai Muslin’ by Abdul Karim.
Based on the idea taken from the book, phuti corpus has the potential to survive somewhere in Bangladesh in the wild. It was planned to collect cotton varieties found in different parts of the wild in different parts of Bangladesh and cultivate them in their own research Lab and fields. To find the phuti corpus tree, it was first painted by an art student of Rajshahi University. That picture was advertised in the newspaper.
Meanwhile in, Shahriar Alam, Minister of State Foreign Affairs updated a status on his Facebook. Seeing this status, the principal of a college in Kapasia area of Gazipur. Tajuddin distributed leaflets and miked at various local schools and colleges in search of phuti corps. In view of this, in 2016 March, news of this phuti corpus tree tree came from Kapasia and Rangamati of Gazipur.
The researcher’s team went for it and collected samples. Then Baghaichhari, Langdu, and Sajek along with 36 samples collected from Lalmonirhat, Bagerhat, and Kurigram. The researchers found a sketch similar to a species of Kapasia tree to find the carpus cotton.
The research team spent about eight months hoping for samples from the Bangladesh National Museum. The museum authorities didn’t give them samples of muslin even after getting permission from the ministry.
At one point they decided to went to the National Museum of India in Calcutta to collect samples of muslin. But the experts at the museum said, muslim are now being made in Murshidabad is made from South India grown cotton fiber, which does not as soft and represents Dhaka cotton muslin fabric.
According to experts, if you want to make Dhaka muslin, you have to find the variety from the vicinity of Dhaka and use that cotton in that area. Cotton varieties and weather have a special role in making a dhakai muslin. Even if you want, you cannot make Dhaka muslin anywhere.
The whole research team was disappointed after failing to go to India. Upon hearing the news, the Honourable Prime Minister asked the researcher to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. They had seen Dhaka muslin there. Finally, in 2016, a group of four researchers went to that museum in London for a little sample of muslin. Their researchers found some samples of muslin fabric and crucial information. DNA sequences of muslin fabric was collected from London. Finally, researchers found a similar DNA of this muslin and previously collected cotton-seed Kapasia plant. Then, the researchers are convinced that this is their desired variety of ‘phuti corpus’. A local man named Abdul Aziz found the corpse. He was gladly given a mobile phone by the researchers.
But the main part of the research was still remained. Producing 500 yarn counts fabric from cotton is not a small feat. This yarn will not be weaven in modern machinery, it will be cut in a spinning wheel. This time, research begins where the weavers still spin the spinning wheel. Then the news comes that these weavers are still in Chandina of Comilla. These weavers cut the thick yarn on a wheel for khaddar. But they don’t make the same size of yarn count. Dean of Bangladesh Textile University Professor Alim-uz zaman and Manjurul Islam invented the new spinning wheel especially for this job.
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has preserved about 350 Dhaka muslin saris. Seeing the design of the sari woven there in 1710, it cost 3 lakh 60 thousand BDT to make the Dhakai Muslin sari in the first stage. Muslin researchers expect costs will continue to decrease gradually. Researchers have already made a total of six saris in total. Dhakai Muslin gift to the Honarable Prime Minister.
Bangladesh has been independent for 49 years today. For a long time, no leader has come up with the idea of Dhakai Muslin research, to bring back this tradition of Bengal. Especially Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be remembered in the history of Bangladesh for these reasons. It will be written in his legacy. Sheikh Hasina, who brought back muslin fabric history. That muslin was lost. That cotton muslin fabric is back again. Muslin has also been recognized internationally as a domestic product. In this way, Bangladesh secures its 4th Geographical Indicator of GI certified products.
This GI certification will be building awareness about the glory of our history and tradition. Specially the tradition of Bengali weaving and traditional textile. The wondrous textile and traditional weaving will enchant the globe.
Dhakai muslin will be ‘A global brand’. The cause is unquestionable since the authentic fabric dominated world fashion. A value of the brand will be retained in the tag of ‘Made in Bangladesh’. In this way, Dhakai Cotton Muslin fabric uniqueness will be reintroduced to the international fashion industry.
The achievement of our textile and apparel industry in the world fashion needs to be told more and more. Every opportunity to reach the local and global audience through the book, film, novel and discussions, interviews, and most importantly social media will be taken for this GI certification. More support will come from the GI to recover our Bangali history and glory.
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