From our very first visit to India, one of the fabrics that most inspired us, and that we have been using ever since is Jamdani. This handloomed cloth has been woven in parts of India for centuries, and reached its fullest expression during the Mughal period (16th – 18th centuries). During this time, highly skilled weavers were commissioned to produce very intricate and sophisticated jamdani for the wealthy rulers.
Traditionally , jamdani is composed of a very fine cotton muslin base fabric. Patterns are incorporated by employing a heavier thread that is woven into the sheer base. This is a supplementary weft technique, which in the case of jamdani, is done entirely by hand.
Patterns might consist of small motifs, such as flowers or other ’buti’, placed in repetition over the cloth. Elaborate borders are also common. Traditionally, the base cloth was white or off-white, with the motifs also in white, giving a subtle and beautiful play between sheer and opaque.
With the decline of the Mughal period, as well as the introduction of mill woven fabrics, demand for jamdani weaving declined. However, the jamdani tradition continues on a small scale, and is still produced on tradtitional wooden looms. This is a labour intensive and slow process. High quality Jamdani sarees are still prized in India, and today are produced in a multitude of colours.
We hope that by including this beautiful fabric in our range every season, the craftsmanship and skills required to produce it will survive.