Muslin is a word that has enchanted the world for the 17th and 18th century for its properties as well as craftsmanship. A pride of Bengal and a worthy opponent of royal clothes all over the world has a rich history. Let us explore today the breathtaking history and the extinction of the world’s finest cloth.
Origin of The Word “Muslin”
The origin of the word Muslin is unclear. Some say the word muslin comes from Mosul, an ancient trading center in Iraq. Again, some think that the word muslin is associated with Musalipattam, the one-time headquarters of a European trading company in southern India.
This word isn’t originated from Persian, Bangla or Sanskrit. Probably the clothes that the Europeans imported from Mosul and the clothes that were brought from other countries of the East through Mosul were called muslin. Then the finest cloth made in Dhaka was called muslin or should say Dhakai Muslin.
Some should say that It’s unclear who gave the name again some would say that it was definitely the Europeans who gave this name. Whoever gave the name, they may be didn’t think that one day this cloth will uphold a whole sub-continent or will be written with the history of pride and agony.
Royal “Muslin” History
When we talk about muslin, Mughal Empire’s name always popped out of history. While in the time of Mughal period the muslin clothing received royal patronage and it ensured another crucial quality certification from the people. Also, the announcement of Dhaka as the capital of Muslin made the trading of muslin to spread far from China to the Middle Eastern Country. The quality, the semitransparent look, the finest touch of craftsmanship attracted people from all over the world. Muslin was widely used to made gown or accessories in European countries.
The tradition of the textile industry in Bengal is quite ancient. At one time Bengal’s cotton cloth was exported to Rome and China. It is mentioned in Ptolemy’s Geography, Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, and in the descriptions of ancient Chinese travellers.
In 1851, Dhaka muslin became the dominant language in a huge exhibition in London and attracted a large number of visitors. British newspapers and magazines praised the excellence and delicacy of Dhaka muslin cloth.
Picture: Muslin as Royalty
During the 17th and 18th centuries, Mughal Bengal emerged as the foremost muslin exporter in the world, with Mughal Dhaka as the capital of the worldwide muslin trade.
The special environment of Dhaka, specially the bank of the river Brahmaputra was perfect to grow the “Phuti” Cotton. A cotton plant from which the cotton fiber was collected to make Dhakai Muslin. Quality of soil, level of moisture and other environmental factors also contributed to the growth of legendary cotton plant.
The threads that were produced from this cotton plant are both soft and strong. Craftsman weaved them by hand into the amazingly fine and beautiful muslin fabrics. Special skills were evolved over the ages and then passed down through the generations. These were used in the spinning and weaving of the amazing muslin fabric.
As we are talking about that time when the total Indian subcontinent was under the rule of royalty, The maslin or “Malmal” was not only a type of cloth but it was produced with different count and different fineness. Some type of Muslins are:
- Malbus Khas– Used in Mughal royal family. 1 yard in length 10 yards in width. Weight lifting.
- Malmal Khas– The new muslin that was made for the kings after the Malbus Khas was discontinued in the 18th century.
- Sarkar-i-Ala– Nawab – Subedar used to use it. 1 yard in length 10 yards in width. Weight lifting 10.
- Ab-e-Rowan– was clear as clear water
- Jhuna– The women of the Mughal harem used to wear these clothes. It was also used by women of aristocratic families. The dancers used to dance while wearing clothes made from it.
- Shabnam– so fine that if it was dried on the grass in the morning, it could not be distinguished from dew.
- Badan Khas– used to enhance the beauty of the body of the wearer. Was particularly comfortable. Its weaving would not have been denser.
As mentioned before, muslin is a semi-transparent fabric, sometimes it was considered with fog for its dense look.
History of Agony
Muslin suffered a great loss when people were turning their attention to the machine-made cheap clothing. But not only one cause made the cloth to extinct from the world. So what were the agonies? Why did it extinct?
Cheap “industrial Cloth” vs Royal “Muslin”
During British colonial rule, the muslin industry was made down by various colonial policies, which supported imports of industrially manufactured textiles from Britain. These clothes were cheaper than the Muslin.
With the establishment of the East India Company’s monopoly over the trade of Bengal after the “Battle of Palashi, 1757”, the trade of other European companies and traders belonging to other nationals practically came to a stop.
A heavy duty of 75 percent was imposed on the export of cotton from Bengal which ultimately leads to the decline of muslin trade in Bengal because the traders suffered from loss.
Payment for Muslin with blood
Those families who used to made Muslin had to face the cruelty of the government because of the master craftsmanship. Their thumbs were cut off so that they couldn’t pass down the skill to other generation. But some says that the hands of the weavers were not British, but they cut off their own fingers so that the work of weaving would no longer have to be done.
Though the second one don’t have any historical mention but the first one was mentioned by William Bolts.
Thus the history was written and the muslin was extinct and the finest cloth that Bengal could produce was jamdani.
But after a lot of effort, the world again felt the softness of muslin with the revival of Muslin with the help of the Government and some people who wholeheartedly tried to revive the golden past, the glory, The Muslin.
Let’s hear that some other day! Till then stay safe and keep others safe around you!
By Team Bucolic Bohemian,
Umme Memory Mim
Textile Fashion and Design (2018-1-6-012)
Sabiha Moon Taha
Textile Fashion and Design (2019-1-6-006)
Md. Mahmud Hosen
Fabric Engineering (2020-1-2-006)
You can also read another of our premium article about Fashion in the 21st century here!
Fashion in the 21st Century
Whenever we are asking which cloth makes you feel comfortable while you are travelling? An answer always passes through your head and you look down to your pair of jeans. Yes, there lies the answer!
Jeans are made of denim fabric a famous fabric for its durability. But have you ever thought weather your jeans are ecofriendly or not? Or have you ever wondered if the fabric was made is a different way to make it strong? May be you have or may be you haven’t. If you have then hope this article will provide you with a best answer!
Why Denim is considered as strong fabric?
Denim were made for gold miners as their fabrics needed to be strong enough and could handle the hazardous work they do. And Levi and Strauss first invented the denim that could hold its shape even after working in the mines or other hazardous work and it didn’t need frequent washing. It started blooming since then, Then it made debut as a film dress and become popular in cowboy movies and western movies.
Special weaving process and rivets to keep it from ripping made it strong than other clothes.
Picture: Factory beside a river. Courtesy: Photo by Linda Finkin on Unsplash
Why is it considered as a non eco friendly fabric?
Talking about denim’s being not an eco-friendly fabric, we can sort the problems in a numerical order and denim has got problem in every step of its way to processing from cotton to
finished fabric. Here are the problems described and I have also described how they can be reduced to minimum.
Cotton Cultivation Process:
Cotton plants need a lot of water to start with and even one of the most pesticide using plants. So they are polluting water and actually consuming a lot of water. Producing just 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cotton can require up to 7,660 gallons of water, depending on where it’s grown. So it’s a huge amount of water. Even workers who are working in the field are exposed to the chemicals that are used as pesticides.
Picture: Cotton. Courtesy: Photo by Amber Martin on Unsplash.
Dying process in the textile factory means dying the fabric with chemicals and colors as coloration process needs various chemicals to make the colors long-lasting. A series of chemicals are used to treat denim fabric and it’s colored with indigo color, a special color that lasts long enough to have the fabric
10/11 wash. 7.5 billion feet of denim fabric is produced every single year and they are repeatedly washed with water. A question may arise so what is the problem! We can use wasted water! But unfortunately we cannot do that as we have used the chemicals once and it has different ratio after one use. So the waters are wasted. It was noticed that Xintang, a town in southern China, the denim capital of word faced a disaster in 2013 . All of its rivers ran deep blue and smelled foul because the denim producers damped all the wasted water in the river.
Washing denim is a process where a lot of chemical treatment is involved. While researching it was found that denim fabric contains heavy metal which can be disastrous for human life. After the pieces of denim is sewn together it is tossed into a variety of washing machine to gain the color or the faded color according to the trend and design.
So how to overcome this situation? Is there any solution to this problem? As human brain is the most sophisticated one, it has been searching for the solution for decades and a lot of solution has came forward. Let’s talk about that!
Hemp vs Cotton!
Hemp is often considered as a drug which is a miss conception. Levi the legendary brand of denim has found a technology to make hemp feel like cotton. They have blended 30% hemp and 70% cotton in their denim. Hemp produces fibers more than same amount of cotton and they need less amount of water to cultivate.
So it is a legendary step in the world of denim as denim is one of the most environment polluting industry in the world.
Courtesy: Photo by Rick Proctor on Unsplash.
Courtesy: Photo by Hanna Balan on Unsplash. Picture: Hemp vs Cotton.
As we know the washing process need a lot of water so we need to reduce the amount of water. Some company has been trying to develop the environment. Pakistani denim company named Soorty has been trying to develoo a denim laundry system that is environment friendly and socially conscious. It has already invested to the most expensive wet denim processing plant in Pakistan. Later on they established A spinning space and in house recycling unit to recycle the wasted water.
This Industry needs to work altogether to reduces the effects and that’s why they made a joint effort in 2019 to go the greener way to reduce the pollution. The brands who have signed the commitment, they express their feeling as they are committed to creat a product or multiple products in adherence to the jeans redesign guideliness. Similarly, in fall 2020, Dutch and international brands signed the Denim Deal in Amsterdam, a pledge to reform and recycle jeans. The project, which is an initiative by House of Denim and the Dutch government, was started to create a circular economy and reuse more old denim garments.
Picture: Denim for future! Courtesy: Photo by Albany Capture on Unsplash.
It will continue as a debate topic that weather Denim is a fabric that we should put away or we should continue with it! But as long as I don’t have to wash my denim regularly and is made with latest ways, I am not leaving my most reliable “Friend Dress” Jeans!
Go green! Save the environment and wear jeans which are less hazardous to the environment!
By Team Bucolic Bohemian,
Mentor: Umme Memory Mim (Id: 2018-1-6-012) Dept: Textile Fashion & Design
Leader: Sabiha Moon Taha (Id: 2019-1-6-006) Dept: Textile Fashion & Design
Executive: Md. Mahmud Hosen (Id: 2020-1-2-006) Dept: Fabric Engineering
From childhood, we dreamt to be invisible like Harry Potter with a magical cloak. But with modern technology & science is that really possible? Let’s check out its origin, adaptation & current scientific updates.
Origin of Invisible Cloak
The invisible cloak is mainly adapted from mythologic terms. It’s mainly a fictional theme which is mainly found in Welsh, German & in some cases probably in Greek myths. According to these myths using certain special cloaks, people can become invisible. However, these myths are mainly found through folklore & storytelling as there is no actual evidence of the existence of these kinds of fabric or cloak before.
Adaptation in fictional Literature & Entertainment
Ancient myths still inspire our art, culture, fashion & entertainment. The invisible cloak inspired a lot of things in the modern era or pre-modern era. A lot of fictional novels are based on these kinds of stuff. In the modern-day several movies & series adapted these mythological terms. Cloaks of Invisibility also existed in Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. The Hobbit series also adapted idea like invisible/magic cloak. The most interesting fact is most of the audience appreciated these mythological terms in entertainment & novel culture. However, getting inspired by fantasy, humans are now trying to create such stuff using modern technology & science.
Scientific Research & Technology
There is been a lot of work happening related to cloaking devices since 2006. Two scientists from Duke University made it possible to render an object invisible for the first time. The cloak was made of “Metamaterial”. It’s generally not found in natural materials. (Although the concept of Metamaterial started in 1967). That special cloak routed microwaves in such a way that makes our eyes emerge as if there is nothing or the object is invisible. However, the research continued more & scientists from Berkeley Lab & University of California added a new dimension to it. They believed that cloaking at optical frequencies is quite possible. At the beginning of 2011, they announced a new cloaking system that was effective in visible lights and can hide macroscopic objects. Natural birefringence of calcite was used in it. When we look at something, we identify its colour because it absorbs all the colour except for the colour that is associated with that object. The wavelength bounces of that object and goes into our eyes which is processed by our brain. So, to deceive our vision an invisibility cloak would have to stop reflecting light back from objects to our eye. By making the wavelengths of light avoid the objects one can do that. Similarly, some cloaking technology can divert wavelengths of light around the edges of an object instead of deflecting them back to our eyes. By this, our brain thinks absent of a certain object. The new cloak created by the University of California doesn’t curve light waves around the object, but reflects and diverts a malformed version of those wavelengths, and thus makes the object undetectable. They used a close-fitting “metasurface” which is made of a light-thin insulator material flecked with gold rectangles that absorb and then emit light waves in a way that eyes can’t identify. The material’s thickness is less than a micrometre as a result it can be wrapped around objects like skin. However, the latest cloaks advantage is that it can cover objects with neat sharp edges, which was proven highly challenging with cloaks in the past.
Problems that Scientists are facing
To create invisible cloaks scientists are facing a lot of problems. One of them is the high dispersive nature of these materials. Besides light passing through them sometimes gets partially absorbed. There is also some issue with movement. The movement of objects may create a problem with invisibility.
Although perfect cloaking is still impossible scientists are trying for its advancement throughout new compound or metal. detectors like microphones, radar or waves and sources such as loudspeakers can still identify object hidden with the latest cloaking tech. But scientists also expect to make perfect cloaking if a particular formula is used to calculate the signals to be fed to the sources. Currently, scientists are working with the metasurface concept in this technology.
Stealth Aircraft by the United States. Courtesy: Image by WikiImages from Pixabay
Current Use & Future Projects:
Although invisible cloaking’s core idea came from myths and fantasy it may be a useful and game-changing revolution for the world, especially in military tactics. Soldiers can disguise themselves with such kind of cloaks during the war. Even probably a whole bunch of arms, camps can be hidden using such technologies. Countries like the United States already working to manufacture stealth aircraft & it has been reported that the British army has also tested something like “Invisible tank”. However, researchers are excited about this new surface as It could eventually open doors to new exciting applications.
By Team Stalwart,
Mentor: Sumita Bhattacharja Joly (2018-1-6-007) Dept: Textile Fashion & Design
Leader: Shariful Islam Akash (2019-1-6-040) Dept: Textile Fashion & Design
Executive: Nashita Ahmed (2020-1-10-041) Dept: Environmental Science & Engineering
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