The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has declared the craft of Bangladesh's jamdani weaving as "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity", says the 'Times of India'.
The Inter-Governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage unanimously decided to include the craft of making Jamdani saris into the ICHH list.
According to the UNESCO, intangible cultural heritage includes oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festivals, knowledge and practices concerning nature. On December 4, the world inter-governmental committee for the safeguarding of intangible heritage under Unesco met at Baku in Azerbaijan to enlist new entries in the world register.
While they included Jamdani into the list from Bangladesh, from India, the only entry was Manipur's Sankirtana and that was also included in the ICHH list, the 'Times of India' said.
Jamdani is a vividly patterned, sheer cotton fabric, traditionally woven on a handloom by craftspeople around Dhaka.
This year the committee has included 14 elements on the list which serves to raise awareness of intangible heritage and provide recognition to communities' traditions and know-how that reflect their cultural diversity.
The Unesco said, "Jamdani is a time-consuming and labour-intensive form of weaving because of the richness of its motifs which are created directly on the loom using the discontinuous weft technique. Weaving is thriving today due to the fabric's popularity for making saris, the principal dress of Bengali women at home and abroad. The Jamdani sari is a symbol of identity, dignity and self-recognition and provides wearers with a sense of cultural identity and social cohesion."
It added, "The weavers develop an occupational identity and take great pride in their heritage; they enjoy social recognition and are highly respected for their skills. A few master weavers are recognised as bearers of the traditional Jamdani motifs and weaving techniques and transmit the knowledge and skills to disciples. Weavers - together with spinners, dyers, loom-dressers and practitioners of a number of other supporting crafts - form a closely knit community with a strong sense of unity, identity and continuity."
The Committee decides that the craft satisfied all the criteria required for inscription.
"It has been passed down through generations particularly within families. Jamdani weaving provides its community a sense of cultural identity and continuity as well as a source of income and empowerment. Inscription could promote safeguarding measures involving both the craftspeople and governmental agencies and reflecting their shared commitment aim to create favourable conditions for the transmission of knowledge and marketing of the textiles," the organisation said.
Jamdani is a word of Persian origin. It is derived from a combination of two Persian words - 'Jama' meaning cloth and 'dana' meaning any small granule. At present around 5000 people are involved with the traditional art.
The UNESCO said, "The Jamdani weavers have remained in the weaving profession from generation to generation. The element represents Bangladesh's rich textile heritage, contains significant historic value and has been designated as a unique element of the intangible cultural heritage of the country."
It added that inscription will ensure visibility and awareness of the socio-cultural significance of the intangible cultural heritage which is expressed in a body of knowledge, practices and traditional craftsmanship. More importantly its inscription, by testifying to human creativity, will encourage the local and international consumers to ensure its safeguarding as an element of cultural diversity worldwide and for the tremendous social and economic impact it creates in the lifestyle of the community concerned.