Bangladesh's traditional weavers hanging by a thread as factories boom

SHOTLIST KERANIGANJ, BANGLADESHSEPTEMBER 13, 2020SOURCE: AFPTV 1. Pull focus weavers at work2. Wide shot weaver at work3. Pull focus weaver at work4. Mid shot weaver at work5. Mid shot weaving6. Wide shot weaver at work7. Mid shot threading8. Close-up threading 9. SOUNDBITE 1 - Abul Kashem, weaver-turned-rickshaw puller (male, Bengali, 10 sec): "I can easily earn 500-700 taka ($6-$8) in half a day by pulling a rickshaw, while I’d earn the same amount sweating it out for more than two days on the loom. Don’t you think my decision is justified?" 10. Cutaway: Pull focus weaver at work 11. SOUNDBITE 2 - Abdur Rahim, weaver (12 sec): "I didn’t teach my sons weaving because it has become a lost cause despite being our centuries-old heritage. There is no facilities for us, no bank loans or anything. That’s why." 12. Cutaway: Pull focus weaving DHAKA, DHAKA DIVISION, BANGLADESHSEPTEMBER 20, 2020SOURCE: AFPTV 13. Tracking shot man wearing lungi14. Tracking shot men wearing lungi KERANIGANJ, BANGLADESHSEPTEMBER 13, 2020SOURCE: AFPTV 15. Wide shot shopkeepers16. Mid shot handloomed lungi ///-----------------------------------------------------------AFP TEXT STORY: Bangladesh's traditional weavers hanging by a thread as factories boom By Shafiqul ALAM =(Video+Picture)= ATTENTION - Photos by Munir Uz Zaman, video by Sam Jahan ///Ruhitpur, Bangladesh, Sept 23, 2020 (AFP) - In small tin sheds in a town outside Bangladesh's capital Dhaka, wooden looms are deftly operated by a group of men and women -- some of the country's last traditional weavers -- as huge garment factories churn out cheaper alternatives.The South Asian nation's centuries-old traditional weaving was once highly sought after, with nobility from Asia and Europe wearing the fine Muslin clothing.But over the past two decades, Bangladesh has become one of the world's largest ready-made garment exporters, with 4,000 factories making clothes for the likes of retail giants Primark and H&M.Left in its wake are traditional weavers such as 55-year-old Mohammad Abu Taher, who is the last of his family to take up the once celebrated vocation."My great-great-grandfather was a weaver and all my ancestors were into weaving," Taher told AFP as he sat in a tin shed with several other artisans in rural Ruhitpur town 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Dhaka.Taher's two sons have left Ruhitpur for the bright lights of the capital to seek work, unwilling to pick up the dying art-form. - 'Once prized' - Three centuries ago, Ruhitpur was one of the region's biggest hubs for manufacturing lungis -- traditional sarongs worn by men.There were 4,000 handlooms in Ruhitpur and nearby villages, employing 12,000 weavers.A handwoven lungi from Ruhitpur was a "prized asset", said local trader Chowdhury Abdur Rahman, recalling stories of his fathers and uncles buying the cloth for their weddings."It was a big part of Bengal's heritage," historian Hameeda Hossain said of the historical region now known as Bangladesh and West Bengal state in India."Unfortunately, it can't compete with power looms." Now, just three dozen weavers -- with an average age of 50 -- remain in Ruhitpur, serving a small group of customers still willing to shell out for the softer, handmade lungis."Our lungi is expensive. Still, some people haven't deserted us because of the softness of handmade clothing," 45-year-old Ruhitpur weaver Mohammad Rafiq told AFP.But he admits his profession is dying out. Employment in the town has shifted to almost a dozen factories manufacturing plastic, textiles and jute that have more than 10,000 people on the payroll."They (factories) have set up electric-powered weaving industries worth hundreds of millions of dollars," he said."They can make lungis and saris very cheaply. We can't compete with them in terms of price." sa/grk/am -------------------------------------------------------------

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