curated by the National Crafts Council of Bangladesh

Overview of the Crafts Sector in Bangladesh – Chandra Shekhar Shaha
Woven Textiles of Bangladesh – Sheikh Saifur Rahman
Natural Dye: General overview of the Craft – Mishael Aziz Ahmad
Embroidered Textiles of Bangladesh – Farzana Yusuf

Chandra Shekhar Shaha, an author, expert, researcher and the previous President of the National Crafts Council of Bangladesh (NCCB) was the first presenter. He portrayed a very compelling picture of the various types of crafts that are practiced in Bangladesh and how it sits in comparison with other crafts from around the world. He stressed that over time, craft practices as we know them today will transform depending on the availability of raw materials and changing socio-economic conditions.

Sheikh Saifur Rahman gave the second presentation of the day, highlighting the woven textile traditions of Bangladesh. Starting with the historic context, he elaborated on the Tangail Saree, weaving from Shirajganj, Rajshahi Silk, Mirpur Benaroshi, Monipuri weaving from Sylhet and the textiles from the indigenous tribal communities from Chittagong, Cox’s bazar and other parts of Bangladesh. Along with the weaving of sarees and yardage materials, the weaving traditions of various home textiles like carpets and shatranji and traditional garments like lungi, accessories like gamcha were also part of the presentation. The most renowned textile from Bangladesh the Jamdani was not discussed in depth, since it was to be presented thoroughly the following day.

Mishael Aziz Ahmad, a practitioner, promoter and expert on natural dye techniques, presented the contemporary practices of natural dye production and went through the vast array of natural ingredients that are used to produce various shades of natural colors and explained how more complex shades can be achieved by combining the ingredients in different variations. He shared his in-depth knowledge of how unique marketing strategies are used to increase consumer awareness and an appreciation for the making process.

Farzana Yusuf presented the rich heritage of hand-embroidered textiles from Bangladesh; this was the last presentation of the day. Materials and processes were shown step-by-step, from their history to current practices. Starting with the world-renowned folk art textile from Bangladesh – the Nakshi Kantha, she then went on to show the group Karchob, Aari embroidery, needlework and zardozi – all of which were discussed in great detail. The presentation drew to a close with a discussion of the extinct textile tradition of Chikankari of Dhaka.



curated by the National Crafts Council of Bangladesh

Nakshi Kantha: Heritage Textiles of Bangladesh
Chandra Shekhar Shaha

Jamdani: Heritage Textiles of Bangladesh
Sheikh Saifur Rahman

Natural Dye: Indigo in Detail
Mishael Aziz Ahmad

Embroidered Textiles of Bangladesh: A Designer’s Practice with
Embroidery Crafts
Farzana Yusuf

The second day of the National Crafts Council of Bangladesh presentation started with Mr. Chandra Shekhar Shaha. An expert in the field of crafts and artisan textiles, he examined the unique features of a high quality Nakshi Kantha and explored how Nakshi Kantha are currently made. Mr. Shaha shared his vast knowledge and experience of organizing National exhibitions to celebrate both the traditional and contemporary practices of this very unique folk art from Bangladesh.

Mr. Sheikh Saifur Rahman introduced the group to the Jamdani – a heritage woven textile from Dhaka. He discussed in great detail the journey of this age-old craft from the ancient Roman times to its present day practice. He elaborated on the exhibition arranged by the Crafts Council and Bengal Foundation in 2019 that extensively researched and recreated some of the old Jamdani pieces. The exhibition is considered to be a milestone in presenting the exquisite workmanship that the Jamdani weavers hone to this very day.

Mishael Aziz Ahmad elaborated on the art and craft of indigo dyeing. Through his extensive experience of working with Living Blue, a social business based in Rangpur, North Bengal. He shared his experience of working with the rural artisans as well as high-end European buyers and presented the many steps in the process – from plantation, cultivation, extraction and product development to marketing this unique craft to a global audience. He pointed out many factors to consider while working with artisan made products and the mainstream fashion and lifestyle industry.

Picking up on points made by Mishael Aziz Ahmad, Farzana Yusuf also shared her experience and practice of working with artisan-made textiles. She shared her practice of working with embroidery artisans from a community with a unique socio-economic background. How to integrate the ‘human’ aspect and the unique social construct of the community is in the heart of her practice. Addressing the issues of preservation, conservation and excellence along with improvement of socio-economic conditions of the artisans is what her studio strives to achieve.

In the Q&A session more information on various types of Jamdani textiles was shared. The topic of Child Labor in the context of the continuation of the traditional craft practices was also discussed by the presenters.


Kamar AHMAD SIMON ‘Testimony of a Thread’

Film Screening by Goethe-Institut Bangladesh
Documentary by Director Kamar AHMAD SIMON, Producer Sara AFREEN

Synopsis: In a globalizing world that seeks cheaper labour everyday, Bangladesh became the 2nd largest provider of clothing worldwide. Within only four decades, it transformed into a $25 Billion US dollar export industry, directly engaging four million workers, most of whom are women. Predictions are set for this figure to double by 2021. ‘Testimony of a Thread’ explores how hope and despair coexist in an industry known for its fatal catastrophes like the Rana Plaza Collapse (2013), considered as the deadliest garment-factory accident in history and deadliest accidental structural failure in modern human history.‘Testimony of a Thread’ is a film in search of the people behind the Rana Plaza disaster. When the garment factory in Shabhar collapsed in 2013, 1135 people died and a further 2438 were injured. Director Kamar Ahmad Simon gives a voice to these people and their survivors. To prevent such tragedies from being forgotten, he points out that the fight for fairer working conditions in Bangladesh is far from over. The film is very moving, not only because of the individual fates portrayed, but because the wider, structural problems are difficult to penetrate. Opaque management structures within the textile sector and the alleged irresponsibility of individual stakeholders make it almost impossible to get to the root of the problem.