Shitol Pati: A cold touch, part of world heritage

SHITOL PATI is the name of an ancient cottage industry in Bengal. SHITOL PATI is part of our civilization, culture and tradition. Besides, the SHITOL PATI of Bangladesh is now a part of the world heritage. The United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization UNESCO announced the official recognition.

Once upon a time, SHITOL PATI was famous all over the world. This rug occupies a special place among the useful items of our household. During the hot season, this SHITOL PATI’s cooling parashah gives peace and relieves fatigue. SHITOL PATI is a unique addition to people’s lifestyles. Even in this age of scientific progress, the demand for rugs has not decreased so much.

Colourful flowers, fruits, animals, figures of loved ones and even geometrical mathematical designs emerge under the touch of the artist’s hand. In the design of SHITOL PATI, important buildings, including mosques, have been used in prayer. There is no idea how many songs and poems have been written around this SHITOL PATI.

“Come  girl’s son-in-law, some thought naire, I spit on my door, kamaranga patti nare” this is how Pallikbi Jasimuddin described SHITOL PATI called kamaranga in his Nakshikantha Mat Kavya book. In the earlier days when there was no electricity, a type of rug made of fine rattan on a kantha or toshak was used. When exposed to it, a cold sensation was felt in the body or mind. Hence, probably the name SHITOL PATI was given. The colourful design, along with the cool paras, impresses everyone.

SHITOL PATI is a traditional household craft of Bangladesh. Leaf cultivation in the country is environment-friendly and climate-friendly. Various activities are being undertaken to increase investment and product diversification in this sector. In this context, the ‘SHITOL PATI Development Campaign-2019’ program was taken during Bangabandhu’s birth centenary. Whose motto is global climate helper, SHITOL PATI wants tax-free export opportunities. Open training, production, marketing and providing interest-free micro-loans are targeted through this program.

UNESCO, a member of the United Nations, on the request of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of the Government of Bangladesh, on December 6, 2017, the traditional handicraft of SHITOL PATI weaving of the Sylhet region of Bangladesh was included in the list of important cultural heritage of the world and held an honorary status in the court of the world.

In our country, rugs have various names and uses. In the absence of electric fans, not just for bed or sitting, SHITOL PATI mat-drawn fans were used in zamindar houses and government office courts. Nowadays, SHITOL PATI is not only used in bedding but also in tasteful decoration materials, lamp shades, Nakshi mats instead of carpets, small-sized Nakshi mats for dining tables, eyeglass cases, suitcases, bags, wall hangers, etc. SHITOL PATI is in great demand. As a result, SHITOL PATI has been used for a long time, and its price is also increasing now. Also, different designs and motifs are used to make SHITOL PATI impressive. SHITOL PATI has been used as a marriage material by Sanatan religious people for ages.

The main ingredient of SHITOL PATI is morta. It is a type of reed grass. Depending on the region, Morata is sometimes called Harijata tree, Mostak and somewhere Patigach or Paitra. This tree grows spontaneously in thickets, forests, reservoirs, and roadsides at the foot of mountains.

Among the different districts of Bangladesh, SHITOL PATI is produced in Chittagong, Jhalkathi, Patuakhali, Khulna and Sylhet regions. However, Sylhet and Chittagong regions produce the best and highest quality SHITOL PATI. The demand for the SHITOL PATI of Sylhet is huge at home and abroad. In Balaganj, Kamalganj, Rajnagar, Baralekha, Jokiganj, Fenchuganj, etc., this district’s areas, Morta is abundant like a weed, especially in the lower areas. In some houses, a curtain is installed around the perimeter instead of fences.

The SHITOL PATI that warms the body and mind in summer is behind the tireless work of a group of women, men and children day and night. This mortar tree is cut from the forest and trimmed first. Then, each mortar is cut lengthwise into three parts with a bati or a knife and is made into beti by skilful hands and soaked in rice flour. They are then boiled in a mixture of rice starch and water. After washing the boiled cane with clean water and drying it in the sun, the work of weaving rugs begins. SHITOL PATI is made smooth with a morta surface.

SHITOL PATI knitting is a work of art with incredible patience and exquisite craftsmanship. Many families are making a living from being involved in the SHITOL PATI industry in various rural areas of the country. Many are retreating from this profession. So, this profession is disappearing.

Every family in different areas of Balaganj, Fenchuganj, Moulvibazar in Mirsarai, Noakhali and Sylhet is involved in this industry. However, the artisans of this industry are all women. There is a legend in Sylhet that SHITOL PATI is an important part of the wedding gifts given from the bride’s house in the area.

Artists making SHITOL PATI said that SHITOL PATI artisans are decreasing day by day. Earlier SHITOL PATI ingredients usually did not cost much to buy. That is because they grow like weeds wherever they are. Artisans collected them and weaved rugs. They were priced only as the price of time and effort. But in today’s changing times, financial awareness has come among everyone. Moreover, mortality is gradually decreasing at present.

On the other hand, SHITOL PATI artists say this traditional and popular art now depends on moneylenders. The moneylenders lease the forests of Morta and sell them to artisans at exorbitant prices. Many times they also give money.

The artists angrily said that, like other handicrafts in Bangladesh, the artists of this industry are poor and neglected. The government should look into this industry like other industries. This industry has held an honourable status in the court of the world. The artists of the SHITOL PATI industry all over the world have won great acclaim for their mastery of craftsmanship and artistry. Why are we lagging behind now? Now, the experts feel that the government should come forward in this SHITOL PATI industry.

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