Alongside Jhum farming, some of the Indigenous inhabitants of the Chittagong Hills can earn additional income through their weaving skills. This knowledge, method and the traditional designs have been handed down through many generations, spanning centuries.
Weaving has been a common practice across all eleven Indigenous and ethnic groups living within the three hill districts that make up the Chittagong Hill Tracts: Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachhari. Due to it being such labour-intensive and time-consuming work however it is sadly in real danger of falling into decline. Should this happen, a major part of the cultural heritage of this region could unfortunately be lost to the future.
Today the process often begins with the unravelling of second-hand woolen clothing to obtain yarn, which is then recycled and carefully woven to create beautiful hand made textiles. Throughout the various villages I’ve visited to date I have seen the backstrap loom most commonly in use. This traditional technique is also known as ‘Bain Weaving’.
It can take several working days to produce one blanket, which would typically find its way to the local market and sell for between 350 and 400 taka (£3.25 – £3.70). Since I relocated to Bandarban during the winter season, I have bought myself several colourful scarves, two beautiful blankets and many shawls, all of which are soft, warm and very durable.