Mul-Mul Saree

Mul-Mul Sarees – Blog

Mul Mul Cotton Saree

Mul Mul Cotton Saree- Blog

History

Mul Mul Cotton Saree or Muslin as it is known in Europe, is a soft and fine weave of cotton, that was first made by Bengali weavers many hundred years ago. In fact the commercial viability of this delicate fabric was perhaps established in Europe almost a 1000 years ago or more, and we know this since ‘Muslin’ has been referred to by a few ancient Greek and Roman writers in their works. It was definitely traded in Europe by the 17th century and was one of the prized imports from India. Later the manufacturing of mulmul or muslin started in England and Scotland. In fact the name Muslin was derived from the city ‘Mosul’ in Iraq, a place where Europeans were said to have first encountered the fabric, Marco Polo mentioned the same in his 1298 book – The Travels. Originally it originated in Dhakeshwari or Dhaka in Bangladesh, which was then a part of India. The fabric was referred to as Daka here. Bengali Muslims are said to have traded the yarn all across the Muslim world, which is how it landed in the Middle East. Under the Mughal rule, ‘Mughal Bengal’ became the largest exporter of high-quality muslin, and Dhaka became the capital of the worldwide Muslin trade. Do you remember listening to the 1949 song, ‘Hawa mein udta Jaye Mera laal dupatta Mulmul ka’ and envisioning a soft, flowy red cloth flying away with the wind? That song romanticised this particular fabric, and if there is any fabric that deserved to be immortalised in pop-culture, mulmul was the right choice because of its royal beginnings. It was not as readily available in the beginning as it is today and was originally exclusively available to Indian royalty. Over time it has gained popularity and is now found in almost all parts of the world. High-quality Mulmul or Muslin, was so lightweight and delicate that it was sometimes referred to as wonder gossamer or the woven wind. While the trade of Mulmul flourished under the Mughal rule, it was repressed aggressively under the British raj. Since the industrially manufactured and imported variant could not compete with the handwoven counterpart in India, it is noted that they tried to eradicate the knowledge and production of fine mulmul by rounding up the local weavers and mutilating their hands by cutting off the thumbs. The production of this fine weave suffered greatly for about two centuries during this time. Many revival attempts have been made in modern Bangladesh since.Youtube




The process of manufacturing

Since all the processes were manual, manufacturing involves many artisans for yarn spinning and weaving activities, but the leading role lies with the material and weaving.

  • Ginning: To removing trash and cleaning and combing the fibers and making them parallel ready for spinning a boalee (upper jaw of catfish) was used.
  • Spinning and Weaving: For extra humidity they used to weave during the rainy season for elasticity in the yarns and to avoid breakages. The process was so sluggish that it could take over five months to weave one piece of mulmul.

The muslins were originally made of cotton only. These were very thin, transparent, delicate and feather light breathable  fabrics. There could be 1000-1800 yarns in warp and weighing 3.8 Ounces ( for 1yard X10 yards) . Some varieties of Muslin were so thin that they could even pass through the aperture of a lady finger-ring.

In 1298 CE, Marco Polo described the cloth in his book The Travels. He said it was made in Mosul, Iraq. The 16th-century English traveler Ralph Fitch lauded the muslin he saw in  Sonargaon . During the 17th and 18th centuries, Mughal Bangal emerged as the foremost muslin exporter in the world, with Mughal Dhaka as capital of the worldwide muslin trade. It became highly popular in 18th-century France and eventually spread across much of the Western world.

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