Tant saree is a traditional Bengali saree popularly worn by Bengali women. It is traditionally made by weavers from all over Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal. Typically few places like Dhaka, Tangail and Narayanganj in Bangladesh and Murshidabad, Hooghly and Nadia of West Bengal are famous for tant saree weaving. Since the tant saree are meant for daily use, it’s very cheap. Tant saree are woven by cotton threads and distinguished by it’s lightness and transparency. It is considered to be the most comfortable saree for South Asian hot and humid climate
Under the royal guidance the tant (Jamdani) and muslin became famous in and around Decca (now Dhaka) in the Mughal era. British government tried to destroy this art to protect the textile industry of Manchester, but the tant culture managed to survive.
With the division of Bengal province during the partition of 1947, some of the weavers migrated to West Bengal and continued their craftsmanship there. Thus the tant weavers are now seen in both parts of Bengal.
The weaving of Tant Sarees is done in the towns of West Bengal, India and Bangladesh. The cotton thread is intricately woven into a Tant Saree by expert craftsmen. The borders are woven a little thick, making it less resistant to getting worn out. Traditionally, handlooms were used by the weavers to create these sarees, but now it has been largely replaced by power looms. A Tant Saree is 6 meter long and not 5.5 meter like the usual Saree length.
Themes and Motifs
The typical Tant saree is characterized by a thick border and a decorative pallav, woven using a variety of floral, paisley and other artistic motifs. Some of the popular traditional motifs are: bhomra (bumble bee), tabij (amulet), rajmahal (royal palace), ardha-chandra (half moon), chandmala (garland of moons), ansh (fish scale), hathi (elephant), nilambari (blue sky), ratan chokh (gem-eyed), benki (spiral), tara (star), kalka (paisley) and phool (flower). Printed, hand-painted and embroidered patterns are also used to get a larger variety of designs. Different motifs including floral element, solar element and recently even modern art are depicted in this saree. Tant Saree comes with colorful design and borders are made thicker because it is subjected to tear easily.
The traditional art of weaving Jamdani, considered the best variety of tant clothing, has been enlisted by UNESCO as a Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Along with ordinary Bengali women of Bangladesh and West Bengal, many prominent Bengali female personalities also prefer to wear tant saree as their regular outfit. Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina, speaker of Bangladesh parliament Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee are notable among them.
Going beyond the political scenario, Bollywood actresses wear Bengal cotton sarees for festive occasions like Durga Puja. Bipasha Basu sported Tant cotton saree in the Bengali movie ‘Shob Charitro Kalponik’, on the other hand Rani Mukherjee and Konkona Sen Sharma are also famous for their style statements in Tant cotton sarees. And Soha Ali Khan inherited her fascination for Tant cotton sarees from her mother Sharmila Tagore.
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