Saturday evening’s cultural show at Ahsan Manzil on the history of muslin marks the month-long Muslin Festival being undertaken by Drik and the Bangladesh National Museum in partnership with Aarong.
The festival is the culmination of a two-year-long project to research and tell the story of the renowned textile which forms an important part of Dhaka and Bengal’s heritage.
Muslin’s past, present, and future is being showcased in a variety of events taking place around the city, which includes artifacts loaned from overseas and the inauguration of a new gallery at the National Museum.
The organisers are to be commended for the innovative way in which they are linking historical scholarship with workshops and film presentations to inspire new interest in reviving this legendary textile.
For hundreds of years, the famed lightness and distinctive motifs of Bengal Muslin attracted trade and brought acclaim for the craftsmanship of Bengali weavers and artists. Dhaka Muslin, which was produced from a now extinct variety of cotton, achieved unique status and its influence can still be traced across many aspects of our nation’s culture.
In itself, there is much to recount in the historical impact made by the artistry and fine quality associated with Bengal Muslin, which made it much sought after in both Mughal and European courts.
What is most exciting about this month’s celebration of muslin, however, is the exhibition’s investigation of the potential of reviving muslin production and exploration of ways to integrate it with high-end contemporary clothing designs.
It is an insightful way to bring history to life and inspire new designers.
The Muslin Festival is a timely reminder of the value of supporting Bangladesh’s rich heritage of important historical sites.