Project LooM
JamdaniParticulars

The hoary history of this most delicate of weaves

The origin of the jamdani is lost in the mists of history and mystery.

Here are some of the oft-repeated factoids. Jam-dani refers to flowers in a vase. Some also say that it refers to Jama (or cloth). “Jamdani is a technique,” says Chandra Jain, a textile expert in Bangalore. “This is why weavers in Uppada say that they make jamdani sarees.”

Most everyone trots out the earliest reference as being in the Arthashastra, a Sanskrit treatise written over many centuries by multiple authors but now attributed to Chanakya and dated now as written between the 2nd and 3rd centuries B.C. That is more than two millennia ago. I read the English translation here

Well, for starters, the Arthashastra doesn’t refer to the jamdani. But it does mention cotton a lot. It talks about soft cotton, which people assume to be muslin. The exact verse is below. Dukula is the term that is the predecessor of muslin, is the assumption.

That which is manufactured in the country, Vanga (vangaka) is a white and soft fabric (dukúla); that of Pándya manufacture (Paundraka) is black and as soft as the surface of a gem; and that which is the product of the country, Suvarnakudya, is as red as the sun, as soft as the surface of the gem, woven while the threads are very wet, and of uniform (chaturasra) or mixed texture (vyámisravána).

We learn many things from a chapter on weaving. Women did it. Chanakya was strict and expected thumbs to be cut off if the work wasn’t done. Read it at the end of this section below.

The next reference comes from the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea, a 1st century A.D. text, which talks about the soft cottons of the gangetic plains emptying the coffers of Rome.

Sanskrit poetry has many references to this soft cotton. A poem by Banabhatta talks about how Lakshmi wears this muslin cotton drapes and her form emerges from the cloth.

Chanakya’s chapter on weaving.

CHAPTER XXIII. SUPERINTENDENT OF WEAVING.

THE Superintendent of Weaving shall employ qualified persons to manufacture threads (sútra), coats (varma), cloths (vastra), and ropes.

Widows, cripple women, girls, mendicant or ascetic women (pravrajitá), women compelled to work in default of paying fines (dandápratikáriní), mothers of prostitutes, old women-servants of the king, and prostitutes (devadási) who have ceased to attend temples on service shall be employed to cut wool, fibre, cotton,
panicle (túla), hemp, and flax.

Wages shall be fixed according as the threads spun are fine, coarse (sthúla, i.e., big) or of middle quality and in proportion to a greater or less quantity manufactured, and in consideration of the quantity of thread spun, those (who turn out a greater quantity) shall be presented with oil and dried cakes of myrobalan fruits
(tailámalakódvartanaih).

They may also be made to work on holidays (tithishu) by payment of special rewards (prativápadánamánaih).
Wages shall be cut short, if making allowance for the quality of raw material, the quantity of the threads spun out is found to fall short. Weaving may also be done by those artisans who are qualified to turn out a given amount of work in a given time and for a fixed amount of wages.

The superintendent shall closely associate with the workmen. Those who manufacture fibrous cloths, raiments, silk-cloths, woollen cloths, and cotton fabrics shall be rewarded by presentations such as scents, garlands of flowers, or any other prizes of encouragement. Various kinds of garments, blankets, and curtains
shall be manufactured.

Those who are acquainted with the work shall manufacture mail armour. Those women who do not stir out of their houses (anishkásinyah), those whose husbands are gone abroad, and those who are cripple or girls may, when obliged to work for subsistence, be provided with work (spinning out threads) in due courtesy through the medium of maid-servants (of the weaving establishment.) Those women who can present themselves at the weaving house shall at dawn be enabled to exchange their spinnings for wages (bhándavetanavinimayam). Only so much light as is enough to examine the threads shall be kept.

If the superintendent looks at the face of such women or talks about any other work, he shall be punished with the first amercement. Delay in paying the wages shall be punished with the middlemost amercement. Likewise when wages are paid for work that is not completed.

She who, having received wages, does not turn out the work shall have her thumb cut off. Those who misappropriate, steal, or run away with, (the raw material supplied to them) shall be similarly punished. Weavers, when guilty, shall be fined out of their wages in proportion to their offences.

The superintendent shall closely associate with those who manufacture ropes and mail armour and shall carry on the manufacture of straps (varatra) and other commodities. He shall carry on the manufacture of ropes from threads and fibres and of straps from cane and bamboo bark, with which beasts for draught are trained or tethered.

Related posts

Giving a new twist to an old textile tradition

Shoba Narayan

Interesting facts and links

Shoba Narayan

Bandhini: Part 3: How to judge

Shoba Narayan

8 comments

podusia.top March 25, 2024 at 7:39 am

You are truly a just right webmaster. This website loading velocity
is amazing. It sort of feels that you are doing any distinctive trick.
In addition, the contents are masterpiece. you’ve done a magnificent
task in this subject! Similar here: najlepszy sklep and also here: Sklep internetowy

Reply
Szpiegowskie Telefonu March 29, 2024 at 12:55 am

Czy istnieje lepszy sposób na szybkie zlokalizowanie telefonu komórkowego bez wykrycia go przez niego?

Reply
Szpiegowskie Telefonu March 31, 2024 at 10:25 am

Czytanie wiadomości e-mail innych osób na komputerze bez znajomości hasła jest bardzo trudne. Ale mimo że Gmail ma wysokie zabezpieczenia, ludzie wiedzą, jak potajemnie włamać się do konta Gmail. Udostępnimy kilka artykułów na temat łamania Gmaila, tajnego hakowania dowolnego konta Gmail, nie znając ani słowa.

Reply
Scrapebox List April 3, 2024 at 7:29 pm

Hi there! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with SEO?
I’m trying to get my site to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very
good success. If you know of any please share.
Thanks! I saw similar text here: Auto Approve List

Reply
vpn code 2024 April 8, 2024 at 6:11 am

Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it
is truly informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels.
I’ll be grateful if you continue this in future.

Many people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

My web-site – vpn code 2024

Reply
vpn special code April 10, 2024 at 3:12 am

First of all I would like to say great blog! I had a
quick question in which I’d like to ask if you do not mind.
I was curious to find out how you center yourself and
clear your head before writing. I’ve had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting my
ideas out. I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the
first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be wasted just trying
to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints?
Many thanks!

Feel free to visit my site – vpn special code

Reply
Elaine89 April 20, 2024 at 4:34 am

Wow, awesome weblog structure!
How lengthy have you been running a blog for? you make blogging glance easy.

The full glance of your website is wonderful, as well as the content!
I saw similar here prev
next and that was wrote by Belinda78.

Reply
Graig78 April 22, 2024 at 2:37 am

Wow, amazing weblog format!
How lengthy have you ever been blogging for?
you made blogging glance easy. The full look of your web site is magnificent,
as neatly as the content material! I read similar here prev next and those was wrote by Marcel87.

Reply

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. I Agree More Info