Project LooM

How to tell an authentic Jamdani

The first thing you do is look at the back of the saree.

Look at the curl in the motifs. Is it made with one thread?

The jamdani weave, like many others, is an extra weft technique.  This means that the motifs are done using an extra thread.

The weaver cuts the weft thread to the length that she believes she will need for one motif, be it a flower or a geometric pattern.  

The same thread gets pulled back and forth. After each pull, the loom is pedalled, adding an extra weft and tightening the design.

This way, a single thread curls back and forth.  In a fake jamdani, the edges of the motif are cut with a scissors. “This is why Benaras jamdanis are called cut-work designs,” says doyenne of textiles, Ruby Palchoudhuri. “In traditional Bengali jamdanis the same thread would be pulled from motif to motif creating a lovely line.”

So if you see threads sticking out from the back, it means that the saree is a fake jamdani. It is not hand woven . It is not handloom.

Watch how she does it in the below video.

After that….

It is really about touch and feel

Once you pay attention, you will be amazed at how quickly you pick it up. What do I mean? The skill of discerning quality. It is the ability to pick up a saree and know two things. Actually three.

  1. Do I like this saree?
  2. Will it look good on me?
  3. Is it a handloom weave? Which automatically means a better quality one. At least in my book.

The first two are individual. The third question is what we are concerning ourselves with here.

How can you tell if it is a handloom saree. Well, it’s a bit nubby. It has texture. It has the uneven-ness that comes from human hands. It is not antiseptically uniform. It has character.

Want to know more? Watch our video of power looms here

Watch this video here for an explanation in Hindi. He basically says what we tell you above.

And here for a look-and-feel in Bangla (Bengali).

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