Issue 13
Monday, 14 August 2017
Charles Darwin University
E-news
A woman spins yarn to use on her hand loom – a traditional industry that may be under threat in Bangladesh
A woman spins yarn to use on her hand loom – a traditional industry that may be under threat in Bangladesh

Machines may unravel hand-made threads

By Ellie Turner

The existence of the traditional hand-woven fabric industry in rural Bangladesh could be under threat from the rise of Western technology, according to a Charles Darwin University PhD student.

Rajmoni Singha recently returned to the Northern Territory after conducting field work in his home country as part of his studies with CDU’s School of Indigenous Knowledges and Public Policy.

“Hand loom weaving is part of the culture and identity of the indigenous people in Bangladesh; women make clothes for themselves and their families, and to sell in the market,” he said.

“But families who have traditionally relied on selling hand-woven goods are finding they are unable to compete in a market where machines are making clothing that is not authentic, but cheaper and faster.”

Rajmoni said his research into the impact on the indigenous Meetei people, in rural north eastern Bangladesh, would explore how they maintained their livelihoods without sacrificing an integral part of their identities.

“They may lose their industry, livelihoods and homes if they continue to rely on hand weaving for income, but producing clothes using electric looms may come at the expense of their culture,” he said. 

His research is continuing.