Golden days of the Golden Fibre – Mughal Times

Golden days of the Golden Fibre – Mughal Times

Author: Poulami Sengupta (Roy) | Contributor
S. No.: IJMA/FOI/27112020/1236/JS-34
Date: 27-11-2020 | Time: 12:36 pm
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About the Author

: Poulami Roy has studied for a Masters in English. She currently works as a freelance content writer when she is not looking after her family. The little time she gets from her hectic schedule, she uses to exercise, explore her love for writing, read, cook and turning her garden upside down.


: Although affected by over-exposure of sunlight and water, the jute fibres are strong, breathable, cost-effective, eco-friendly, versatile and can be easily blended with other synthetic fibres.

Historical shreds of evidence reveal that the usage of jute in India dates back to the Mughal reign. It is said that the poor villagers wore jute garments during those days. The Indians even used jute twines and ropes for meeting several types of household needs. The jute usage can also be observed among the Chinese while preparing the paper. Researchers have found a tiny piece of jute paper with certain Chinese characters written on it. It was discovered in the Dunhuang region of the Gansu Province located in northwest China. The historians believe that the production of the paper dates back to the reign of the Western Han dynasty.

On the international picture, the British East India Company has been recorded as the pioneer in trading jute. The company’s export record of jute amounts to be 100 tons. One such shipment sparked the interest among the Dundee people of Scotland if mechanical production of jute was possible.

Roughly in the 1830s, the Dundee spinners gradually succeeded in experimenting and modifying their power-run flax equipment to spin jute. The gradual rise of the industry in the region witnessed the rise of the export and production of raw jute from the contemporary Indian sub-continent.

Calcutta was the principal centre for all these activities regarding the export of raw jute. The primary reasons for such development were the availability of ample coal for running the power and there was no dearth of cheap labour. Moreover, the geographical location of the city, by the sides of the Hooghly River, also played a positive role in popularizing jute.

The first-ever jute mill of the region was developed in Rishra in the year 1855. Within 1869, fully-functional 5 mills were working with over 950 looms. 1910 trading records show that 38 companies were able to export over a billion yards of jute cloth along with over 450 million bags. By the next 30 years, the banks of Hooghly saw the rapid growth and development of the jute industry with 68,377 functional looms.

After the independence of India in 1947, the maximum number of jute industrialists left the country leaving the basic framework of the jute manufacturing industries behind. The businesses were mostly acquired by the Marwari communities. The political tensions between India and Pakistan lead to the rise of the Pakistani jute mills, a country that consisted of the finest quality of jute fibres. Later, after the liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971, the Bangladeshi government eventually founded the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation.

Cultivating Jute
Successful jute cultivation requires humid weather and warm climate supported by ample rainfall with loamy soils. Jute growth hardly requires any insecticide or fertilizers. If the natural conditions are suitable, it thrives well. As the stems get harvested, they undergo “retting”, where they remain steeped in low soil for 10-30 days for the relevant development of bacteria. Then “stripping” method allows the separation of the non-fibrous elements of the fibres. Then the substance acquired is accordingly processed through dried, washed and finally spun into jute yarns.

Although affected by over-exposure of sunlight and water, the jute fibres are strong, breathable, cost-effective, eco-friendly, versatile and can be easily blended with other synthetic fibres. As the pros highly outweigh the cons, it is not difficult to understand the value and importance of this unique “golden fibre”.

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