Dying Art Of Jamawar – Indian royal fabric
The base of Jamawar fabric lies in Kashmir. The word Jama means ‘a robe or shawl’ and War means ‘Yard (the measuring unit)’. During mughal period, kings and nobles used to buy jamavar fabrics and then use it as gown or shawl for winters. Hence it is widely popular as fabrics of royalty.
What you will love about this jamawar fabric is that, unlike Banarasi fabric, this will not leave any loose threads on back side even though it is completely woven into fabric.
Origin and History
It is said that jamawar was originally brought from Persia to Kashmir around five centuries ago. This lavish fabric became widely popular during the Mughal reign. The very famous king Akbar can be credited for the foundation of jamawar fabric in India. It is said that king Akbar was so impressed with these jamawar craftsmanship that he used to invite skilled craftsmen from arab countries and gradually they settled around Kashmir region.
Another historical theory claims that when Maharaja Ranjit Singh took over Kashmir to his empire, some Sunni Muslim families migrated to Najibabad where they continued their trade of jamawar shwawls. Sunni Muslims found a commercial possibility for their craftsmanship and started settling there. The industries were blooming and karkhanas (workshops) was established to increase the production of jamawar. Those days, jamawar was solely used to make shawls but now it is used in sarees, lehengas and gowns too.
Technically, Jamavar shawls were handwoven, and so it used to take months to finish a weaving even 1 shawl. And because it is handwoven, it is extremely costly, only royal families could afford jamawar fabric.
By the end of 18th century, the discovery of Jacquard loom made it accessible for all class of people, Jamavar became more affordable. The early 19th century saw major innovations in weaving. Skilled embroidery work and flawless weaves accentuated this fabric. However, by the end of 19th century, the art of Jamawar weaving began to fade away as the patronage of Mughals went down.
Historically, Jamavars were crafted out of pure silk and were exclusively worn by the royal and aristocrat class. Fortunately, with advanced technology and faster looms Jamavars are accessible to all nowadays.
Reviving the Art
For the revival of this dying art of jamawar shawl weaving, the Indian government has commenced some programs that contribute towards the employment of skilled shawl weavers.
The Jamawar silk weaves should be dry cleaned only. You cannot afford to cause damage to such a costly product.