Shital Pati weavers from the greater Sylhet region hope that the inscription of the traditional art of Shital Pati weaving of Sylhet on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity will help them live modest lives.
The weavers, who have been weaving Shiatl Pati for generations, hope the recognition will draw attention of the common people and the government to the traditional handicraft and help increase its market value.
Traditional art of Shital Pati weaving of Sylhet has been inscribed on Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on Wednesday at the 12th session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee held in Republic of Korea’s Jiju Island.
Following the inscription, New Age talked with three traditional Shital Pati weavers from the Sylhet region, who were visiting Dhaka to attend a Shital Pati exhibition organised by Bangladesh National Museum. They said they could not earn enough from weaving Shital Pati as they had to sell it with marginal profit. Moreover, many weavers are leaving the profession due to poor business prospect.
‘It is great news for us that our art has been recognised internationally. I hope that government will now take the art-form more seriously and help us so that we can continue in the profession’, said fifty-five year old Arati Rani Das from Rajnagar, Moulvibazar, who has come to attend a special Shital Pati exhibition at Bangladesh National Museum.
Arati Rani Das, who has been weaving Shital Pati for the last 30 years, also shared that most of the families involved in Shital Pati weaving are ‘poor and often leave Shital Pati weaving for other jobs’.
Another Shital Pati weaver Romakanta Das from Moulvibazar says, ‘We hope that the government will help create a market for Shital Pati at home and abroad so that we can sell the product at good prices’.
Folk art researcher Chandrashekhar Saha also hopes that the recognition of Shital Pati weaving as an ICH will make people, government and NGOs interested in the traditional handicraft.
‘Most of our craftsmen live in poor condition and many of them are forced to leave their traditional profession as they cannot earn enough. We need to facilitate the artisans and create proper market for their goods’, said Saha.
Cultural affairs minister Asaduzzaman Noor shares his ministry’s plan to help Shital Pati artisans. ‘We have plans to enlist names of each and every Shital Pati weavers and give them regular grants. Moreover, we will help them sell their goods at good prices’, said Noor.
To note, Shital Pati is the fourth item from the country to be inscribed by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage. Earlier, Jamdani Weaving, Mangol Shobhajatra and Baul songs were inscribed in 2013, 2016 and 2008 respectively.
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