Memos from Asia

Shital Pati: A Cultural Heritage of Bangladesh

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(Photo Credit: Faizul Latif Chowdhury, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Bangladesh is very affluent when it comes to its culture. People of Bangladesh have been nurturing the values of their ancient culture deep in their hearts for centuries now.

It’s nearly impossible for anyone to name all the festivals and cultural artifacts that relate to Bangladesh in a single breath.

While Bangladesh is aspiring to become a developed nation, lack of preservation of the artifacts leaving many of them on the brink of extinction without even realizing it. Some of them are worth saving.

One such artifact is Shital Pati that you should bring as a souvenir from your next trip to Bangladesh (well, only if you’re planning one).

It’s a cold mat, weaved using the strips of a green cane called Murta, found in the villages of Sylhet. UNESCO recently listed the art of weaving Shital Pati in the list of the “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”(UNESCO).

Now before you go and purchase one for yourself, you should learn a bit more about it.

Usage of Shital Pati in daily life

Bangladesh, a decade ago, was all about Shital Pati. People all around Bangladesh had at least one Shital Pati at their home, and the majority of them still have one. It has a diverse use in the daily life of people from Bangladesh.

It can be used as a Prayer mat, in sitting arrangements, or as a bedspread in summer to get rid of the summer heat.

People are also making purses these days using Shital Pati. It gives the purses a traditional look.

The artists behind the art

The people, who kept this art of weaving handcrafted mat alive, mostly live in the low-lying villages of greater Sylhet of Bangladesh.

Other practitioners of this weaving art live in different parts of the country, though they are very few in number.

Both men and women are involved in the whole process of weaving a Shital Pati. In most cases, women dominate this field, which is also helping to empower themselves.

Process of making a Shital Pati

The process of making a Shital Pati is very aesthetic. The artists first collect canes or Murtas from nearby forests. Then they slice them to make strips out of the Murtas. Those strips are later dyed and colored and made ready for the weaving process.

When everything is in place, the weavers put together the strips and weave the very art called Shital Pati. They can be plain or have different structures portrayed on the surface of the Shital Pati. Those mats, who have these kinds of designs are called Nakshi Pati. The price of a Shital Pati can vary from $10 to $100, considering the effort put behind the process. The Nakshi Pati often charges more.

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