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‘We should let the world explore our traditional fashion’

  • Published at 06:15 pm October 11th, 2018
Heritage Hut
Photos: Courtesy

Headed by Tootli Rahman, BHCF arranges its first exhibition in the capital

Tootli Rahman, the founder of the International Weaver's Festival, recently launched the Bangladesh Heritage Crafts Foundation (BHCF) on May 12 this year, with the presence of H E Mercia Bernicat.

The aim of the establishment is to unite the assorted works of Bangladeshi craftsmen and highlight its rich legacy and culture, in order to restore a tradition that is unique, but slowly declining. The foundation is also interested in enhancing social discourse by displaying crafts from nations around the globe, which include Morocco, Maldives, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Vietnam, Turkey and many more. Along these lines, it hopes to learn more about each other's culture and heritage.

Based on this understanding, a two-day exhibition was arranged at Gulshan-2, on October 5 and 6. Titled ‘Heritage Hut’ the main objective of the exhibition was to bring together the diverse works of Bangladesh’s artisans. Items on display comprised of a wide variety of deshi textiles like Dhakai Jamdani, Rajshahi silks and Muslins, along with household items made from ‘shitol pati’ and traditional items that are quintessentially Bangladeshi. This was the first time such a platform had been created to share ideas and display traditional items of Bangladesh, along with other foreign countries.

BHCF is a non-profit foundation to restore, revive and boost the hundreds of years of old heritage and prized possessions in cottage industries as well as crafts of Bangladesh. The objectives of the foundation are to facilitate, help generate income, support and engage a large number of highly skilled, yet nearly extinct craftsmen across the country.

As part of the event, the Heritage Crafts Foundation was honoured to have Hasina Gazi, Mayor at Tarabo Pourasova in Narayangonj as their chief guest. Golam Dastagir Gazi, Member of Parliament, Government of Bangladesh and Sakhawat Abu Khair Mohammad, President, Gulshan Society attended the occasion as the guests of honour, while Fahmi Gulandaz Babel, Member of Parliament, Government of Bangladesh was present as the special guest. Well-wishing expatriates and foreign nationals extended their warm support for the foundation.

At the exhibition, the ladies of the Bangladesh Heritage Crafts Foundation displayed their Bangladeshi made items in stalls. There was pottery from Rajshahi and Dhamrai, and local mask art by Abinta Gallery of Fine Arts. Tootli Rahman displayed both her pottery and Jamdani saris. Kids wear was displayed by By-Deshi Junior, led by Faria Rahman. Other handicrafts were displayed by Ask Handicraft, while greeting cards were displayed by Kolporoop. One Culture showcased their rickshaw art on everyday household items. Greenfield Jutex displayed their range of jute products. From saris and other clothing items, the exhibitors were, Alankrita Bangladesh, Farzana Malik Design, J S fashion, Z&Z Collection and Chaman's. The exhibition also displayed a panel where the expats and ambassadors of different countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Maldives, Brazil, and many more displayed their national heritage crafts.

Tootli Rahman is a renowned entrepreneur, who has ventured into a range of areas in the span of over 35 years. She is the only woman in the country who has left her mark as a pioneer in numerous fields, bringing together women from all walks of life, in order to empower and support them through her social service platforms as the founder of organizations such as WINGS – a support group for women, Zonta Greater Dhaka, ALO – a drug awareness program, International Weaver’s Festival and the Bangladesh Heritage Crafts Foundation.

Fashion designing is something that I love to do, always,” said Tootli Rahman who has been in this profession for the last 35 years. In the last 10 years, she has been designing saris and kameez with local materials, incorporating a ‘deshi’ style. “I love promoting our deshi style - nokshi katha, khadi and many more. I’m overwhelmed with the response that this exhibition has received and I feel that people should get to know more about the fashion of Bangladesh. Our style is very unique and beautiful. We should let the world explore our traditional fashion as well,” she added.

Through her many new endeavours, Tootli Rahman wants to continue providing support in initiating women empowerment programs and building a bridge that connects Bangladeshi heritage and crafts to the international market.