Every traditional dress culture has its secrets and staggering facts. And that’s so interesting to explore these most unique and telling things about certain national costume! Much more so than to just learn what garments are traditional, how they’re called, and how to wear them properly. So, let’s look at the most surprising and probably even shocking for somebody facts about Bangladeshi clothing culture and traditional attire.
British colonizers destroyed muslin fabric industry in Bangladesh
One of the most famous fabrics produced in Bangladesh in the old times was muslin, very delicate and lightweight cotton cloth. Muslin is so thin and lightweight that a whole sari made from this fabric can be folded and tucked into a matchbox. The capital of Bangladesh was world-famous for its muslin industry, but when British colonizers came to the country, they considered this fabric a threat to English textile industry. So, they established high taxes (up to 70-80%) on muslin producers and used other legal and illegal ways to stop Bangladeshi weavers from making this cloth. Some even say the British cut off fingers of the local weavers. And so, today no one in the world has the skill to produce muslin anymore.
The rich and powerful of Dhaka tried to ban lungi – didn’t work
Lungi is one of the traditional garments worn by Bangladeshi men, it is a comfortable skirt-like garment, very popular on the Indian subcontinent. In 2013, Bangladeshi association Baridhara Society (its members are diplomats, homeowners, and other powerful and wealthy people in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh) tried to ban using lungi by the local rickshaw-pullers and other workers. They stated that this garment was inappropriate, so rickshaw-pullers should have worn pants instead. But this situation had such a public resonance – thousands of people rose up to protect the traditional lungi and the right of ordinary Bangladeshis to wear whatever they wanted – that the ban was lifted.
Bangladeshi widows wear white sarees
Women in Bangladesh usually wear either shalwar kameez or sari when they’re not dressed in Western-style clothes. There are hundreds of different ways of draping a sari, hundreds of sari styles and designs, and hundreds of different color variations. Most people know that Indians and Bangladeshis wear red sarees for a wedding. But can you tell what kind of a sari is worn by widows? Bangladeshi widows wear white sarees to manifest their sorrow.
No trousers for Bangladeshi matrons
Elderly women in Bangladesh practically never wear trousers. They prefer to use a sari or another traditional dress. But even when they dress in contemporary Western-style clothes, they avoid wearing pants. Probably, it’s considered not appropriate. At the same time, young women often use trousers – the traditional and very common shalwar kameez include pants and a tunic.