There are probably few luxuries to compare with the image, the aura, and especially the feel of silk.
And it comes as no surprise that, in Northern Bangladesh, on the edge of the historic and ancient Southwest Silk Road, a silk industry flourishes, as it has for a very long time.
|Spools of Silk|
Quite how long, no one knows for sure; there are even those who claim, a little like the old argument about whether Marco Polo took noodles from Italy to China or brought them back from China, that silk moth cultivation originated in this corner of ancient India, now Bangladesh, and taken to China!
|Silk Loom - Rajshahi Silk Manufacturing|
What is certain is that the industry was flourishing hereabouts when the English Merchant, Ralph Fitch, visited these parts in 1586 doing research work that led to the formation of the Honourable East India Company. It may, in fact, have been one of the many attractions of the area that were reported back to London. It may even have been what brought the Dutch to set up a base for trading in Rajshahi.
|Rajshahi Silk Manufacturing|
Whatever the truth, there is no doubt that both traditional manufacturing, and the production of Errandi, or non-violent silk produced without boiling the pupa and killing the embryonic moth, are crafts of a great age in these lands with a history of over 2,500 years of international trade.
|Silk Thread spun onto Spools|
Today, from Mulberry bushes to hand painted decoration, the entire process from unravelling the average mile of silk thread from each cocoon to marketing the luscious lengths of sheer silk are undertaken in a thriving industry, with markets both at home and abroad, by highly experienced and skilled work forces of both men and women.
|Hand Stitched Rajshahi Silk|
A major employer in an area more famed, perhaps, for it agriculture, especially the delicious annual crop of mangoes, and where so much of the population is more seasonally employed than fully.
Apart from the silk, of course, the area is rich in archaeology and history. So much the more reason the visit!