Bengal Cotton or popularly known as Bengal Tant, ‘Tant’ meaning handlooms in Bengal is believed to have existed since the 15th century in the Shantipur district. It continued to flourish during Mughal rule from the 16th to 18th centuries. During the partition of Bengal in 1947, several weavers from Tangail, Bangladesh migrated to Phulia, close to Shantipur,West Bengal,India. They settled here with their artisanal skills of weaving traditions. Other notable weavers from West Bengal are from Hooghly and Burdhwan who have their own style of weaving. Over the years, Bengal flourished into cotton saree and textile weaving which are home to the most popular varieties of tant sarees.
Tant sarees are woven from locally procured Bengal cotton threads and are distinguished by its soft, transparent and feather light texture. Bengal is known for producing best quality of cotton sarees due to its proximity to rivers and cotton grown in the region. It is said that the cotton that grows in Bengal region has been tried to be harvested in other parts of India, with very little luck. Thanks to the abundant diverse minerals in the soil and rivers in this region.
Tant cotton saree is usually stiffly starched which gives crisp to the saree. They are very comfortable to be draped for the hot and humid climate.
Tant sarees have thick borders, a decorative pallav woven using a variety of floral, paisley and other artistic motifs. Traditional motifs such as bhomra(bumble bee), tabij(amulet), rajmahal(royal palace). ardha-chandra(half moon), chandmala (garland of moons), ans(fish scale), hathi(elephant), nilambari(blue sky), ratan chokh(gem-eyed), benki(spiral), tara(star), kalka(paisley), and phool(flowers) are often used.
A tant saree takes about 10 to 12 hours of weaving for simple designs and more intricate designs could take around 5 to 6 days.
We at KAMAKSHI present to you an authentic handloom Bengal Cotton!