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The Story of the Lost Ancient Fabric Dhaka Muslin

Video from Dr. Ahmed Zaidi

The Story of the Lost Ancient Fabric Dhaka Muslin

"2 centuries ago this ancient fabric was 26x more expensive than silk. It was worn by the Mughal Emperors, the Romans, Marie Antoinette and even Jane Austen wrote about it.

For the last 200 years, no one has been able to make this fabric." from the video introduction

The Ancient Fabric that No One Knows How to Make

"Nearly 200 years ago, Dhaka muslin was the most valuable fabric on the planet. Then it was lost altogether. How did this happen? And can we bring it back?

In late 18th-Century Europe, a new fashion led to an international scandal. In fact, an entire social class was accused of appearing in public naked.

The culprit was Dhaka muslin, a precious fabric imported from the city of the same name in what is now Bangladesh, then in Bengal. It was not like the muslin of today. Made via an elaborate, 16-step process with a rare cotton that only grew along the banks of the holy Meghna river, the cloth was considered one of the great treasures of the age. It had a truly global patronage, stretching back thousands of years – deemed worthy of clothing statues of goddesses in ancient Greece, countless emperors from distant lands, and generations of local Mughal royalty.

There were many different types, but the finest were honoured with evocative names conjured up by imperial poets, such as "baft-hawa", literally "woven air". These high-end muslins were said to be as light and soft as the wind. According to one traveller, they were so fluid you could pull a bolt – a length of 300ft, or 91m – through the centre of a ring. Another wrote that you could fit a piece of 60ft, or 18m, into a pocket snuff box.

Dhaka muslin was also more than a little transparent..." from the article: The ancient fabric that no one knows how to make

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