Tangail Handloom Saree: Past, Present and Future 

The history of weaving industry in Bangladesh is very ancient. Like other parts of Bangladesh, Tangail district has a rich heritage. The culture of this country is involved with this industry. And the weaving industry is one of the bearers of our tradition. It is also the largest cottage industry in the country. The weaving industry of Tangail district is one of the partners of that largest industry. Tangail weaving is one of the oldest cottage industries in Bangladesh. Tangail Handloom saree is admired all over the world. This traditional saree is made in Tangail district and is named after this district.

From ancient times the skilled artisans of Tangail have been making various kinds of cloth in their lineage. And it takes yarn to make cloth. The yarn is made from cotton. Mirzapur Upazila, an ancient region of Tangail district, famous researcher James Taylor has written about the cotton of Mirzapur. Apart from that, the travel stories of the famous tourists Ibn Battuta and Hiuen Tsang mention the textile industry of Tangail. From that point of view, it can be said that the tradition of Tangail weaving industry is very ancient, it is our thousand year old tradition, culture and culture.

beautiful tangail handloom cotton saree
Fig: Beautiful Tangail handloom cotton saree

At present, Tangail’s reputation for Tangail Handloom saree is worldwide beyond the borders of the country. The weavers of Tangail used to weave muslin sari. At one time this muslin had a free movement from the Magellan court in Delhi to the British royal palace. Muslin cloth has been lost in the flow of time due to the conspiracy of foreign merchants. But Jamdani, Benarsi and Handloom saree of Tangail still survive as his successful successors. Muslim weavers are called HoteJola. The majority of these weavers were in Tangail, Kalihati and Gopalpur areas. Again Yugi or Yungi is called Debnath as a Nathpanthi and Kaulik title. They had the exclusive right to make woollen cloth. The spinning wheel was in every family and the men and women of the family, including their sons and daughters, were busy all day spinning and weaving. There were settlements of Yugi community in Kalihati and Gopalpur areas of Tangail. Yugis used to make khoom, towels and mosquito nets and run their business almost independently.

Basak is the basic title of the Hindu weavers of Tangail. Bajitpur and Nalsunda villages are the majority of them.  But in Balla and Ratanganj there are thousands of Muslim artisans (districts) and many of them are very rich. It is known from history that the weavers of the Basak community are the original weavers of Tangail, that is, they have been the weavers of Gantra since ancient times. They can be called a class of nomads – initially they came from the Indus Basin to Murshidabad in West Bengal and started weaving. But seeing that the weather there was not improving the quality of sari, they went out in search of a new place and moved to Rajshahi region of Bangladesh. Seeing the unfavorable weather there too, the Basak as split into two groups and one group moved to Bajitpur in Kishoreganj and the other to Dhamrai in Dhaka. However, some of them were associated with silk work and remained in Rajshahi. Before starting work in Dhamrai, the Basak as got involved in a conflict among themselves. As a result, many Basaks moved to the Chohatta region of the neighboring country. From then on, the Basak weavers were permanently divided into two groups, Chauhatta and Dhamraiya. Fiber work was going well in Dhamrai and Chauhatta.

However, many Basaks came to Tangail and settled there in search of a better place. As the weather here was unfavorable for them, they started weaving in full force. They have been weaving looms in Tangail for generations. At one time, the Basak class lived in most parts of Tangail, training the inexperienced weavers through the Basak Samiti and controlling the quality of cloth. After the partition of the country in 1947 and the war of independence in 1971, many Basak weavers migrated to India. Apart from the Basaks, the Lakes of other communities also became deeply involved in the weaving industry. They became skilled according to the Basak weavers. Tangail Sadar, Kalihati, Nagarpur and Sakhipur upazilas are the weaved areas among the 11 upazilas and 1 thana of Tangail district. Besides, there is also weaving industry in Bhuapur upazila.

Apart from partition, Pakistan-India communal riots, Basak weavers who left Tangail for India after the liberation war of 1971 are trying to capture the world market by tarnishing the name of Tangail saree which is being made in the curriculum of Tangail saree. However, despite the adversity, the saree of Tangail weavers is being able to regain its lost market. Because Tangail saree means saree made of different yarns, different weaving saree with different characteristics. There is a wide variety of designs, textures, and colors. Other sarees are made from 10 hands to a maximum of 11 hands, and Tangail weavers’ saris are made in 12 hands. This saree is soft and comfortable to wear and lasts for a long time. Besides, keeping in tune with the time and demand, the charm and design of Tangail handloom saree is changing day by day.

There are several types of Tangail sari weaving looms, among them Chittaranjan (fine), Pitlum (Khat-Khati), automatic, semi-automatic looms. These looms are used to make sari of different colors and designs. Jamdani, Baluchuri, Soft Silk, Half Silk, Hazarbuti, Than, Benarshi, Sambalpuri, Suti Par, Katki, Swarnachur, Anarkali, Devdas, Kumkum, etc. and sari of common name are made in different factories. Despite the appreciation of Tangail weavers’ sarees from various countries in Europe, America, Japan and various states across the country, the supply of raw materials is not readily available and the cost of production goes up due to increase in prices of various parts including raw materials. Despite so many adversities, Tangail sari has been able to hold its market. Because Tangail sari means sari made with different weaves in different yarns. There are variations in its design, texture and even colour. Tangail’s soft silk and cotton sari have revolutionized the weaving industry. This sari weaving and design draws attention. The sari of Tangail is characterized by handicraft work. Sari and lungi are made from silk cotton yarn. Apart from this, the weavers of Tangail make sari, lungi, towels and sheets.

weaving of tangail handloom saree
Fig: Weaving of Tangail handloom saree

Saree is the first choice of Bengali women in any occasion including Eid, Puja, Parvan, Poyala Boishakh. And there is a special attraction towards the sari of Tangail weavers. That is why the weaved sari of Tangail is most popular among Bengali women. Every year, variety and novelty are being added to the weaving sarees of Tangail. Tangail handloom saree crafts are different according to the festival. Tangail sarees have different designs and crafts centered on Eid. Which is easily preferred by women. Tangail saree is age-appropriate to meet the demand.

The traditional weaving industry in Tangail has suffered a major setback due to the effects of the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). After being closed for four months, the workers have started making sari in some looms for some time. However, due to lack of demand for cloth, the owners have now closed some looms. The traders think that the demand for weaving cloth will not increase in the coming Eid-ul-Azha. In this Eid also they have to count their lucks.

Meanwhile, Kortia Hat, one of the largest sari sellers in the country and one of the largest in the country, has reopened after a long hiatus, but sales are very low. Besides, Bajitpur Tangail Saree Hat in Sadar Upazila and Pathrail Saree Sherumgula in Delduar Upazila also have very low sales. Due to all this, a big collapse has taken place in the weaving industry. Once, Billions of Taka worth of sari was sold from these places every week. According to sources in the two basic centers of the district controlled by Weaver Board, there are one lakh 206 weavers in the district. There are 4,151 small loom owners. On the other hand, the workers of Tangail weaving industry were busy day and night in producing sari. Sari buyers from all over the country used to gather at Sherumgula in Kortia, Bajitpur and Pathrail to buy sari. During the year, the loom owners used to sell their sari during the last month of Ramadan to pay off the debts of banks and NGOs. But this time the loom owners are getting more indebted due to the crisis that has been created in Karachi.

Thousands of workers have become unemployed. Billions of Taka worth of saris are lying unsold in the houses of loom owners. Meanwhile, the Upazila administration has provided relief assistance to about 3,000 distressed weavers through Weaving Board. The weavers and workers of Tangail are living a dehumanized life due to corona. Therefore, they need the support of the government for the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha. If govt patronises the weavers & It is believed that Tangail sari will retain its reputation and tradition in the future.

But it is a news of great pleasure that now Tangail sarees are exported in India, USA, Japan, Middle East and many European countries. Specially, Tangail handloom saree is very popular in India. More than fifty thousands Tangail saree are exported in India per week.


  1. Bostro o Poricchod: Baboharik Shilpokola by Mahbuba Jalal
  2. http://www.tangail.gov.bd/site/page/efc0ea51-2012-11e7-8f57-286ed488c766/জেলার ঐতিহ্য
  3. https://www.prothomalo.com/special-supplement/বাংলাদেশের-তাঁতের-শাড়ি
  4. https://bn.wikipedia.org/wiki/টাঙ্গাইল_তাঁতশিল্প

Author of this Article:
Nazifa Tabassum
B.Sc. in Clothing and Textile
College of Home Economics, Dhaka
Email: nazifa.099@gmail.com

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