Jute is a versatile natural fibre with a golden and silky shine, hence called 'the golden fibre'. It is the second most important vegetable fibre after cotton. For ages, it has been used to create a wide range of products from sacks, bags and ropes to folders, mats and wall hangings.

Usage

Jute is used to make a wide variety of accessories. Bags, various kinds of hammocks, folders, bottle covers, tea coasters, dolls, wall hangings, pen holders, door mats, belts and even mobile covers are made using jute. It also used widely in manufacturing different types of packaging material for agricultural and industrial products. Its coarse quality has a unique charm while heavy texture, natural colors and twill kind of body typify it earthiness.
In India jute craft is impregnated with a rich past. Before transmuted as a commodity used for commercial exploration jute had its utilitarian usage amidst the globe to make household and farm implements such as ropes, hand made clothes, wall hangings, etc. The jute craft has developed in India centring the Eastern India. Bengal reveled in sacks and saris made of jute were usually used in the Middle Age producing maximum jute globally. Export of jute sacks, as an essential commodity, started in the 18th century.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries jute had grown to be an indispensable industry. The uses included: sacking bag, ropes, boot linings, aprons, carpets, tents, roofing felts, satchels, linoleum backing, tarpaulins, sandbags, meat wrappers, sailcloth, scrims, tapestries, oven-cloths, horse covers, cattle bedding, electric cable, even parachutes.

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Significance

Jute, the second cheapest textile fiber is widely used for packaging industrial and agricultural products. Apart from its coarse character and heavy texture, the natural color increases its unique charm. Jute has the attraction of being a fibre both naturally strong and a good colour. It does not shrink or fade, is available easily and is durable. In the jute products, there is no joinery. Smaller products like doormats and phone covers are made out of the leftovers of the larger ones.
Jute fibre is 100% biodegradable and recyclable and thus environmentally friendly. Jute has low pesticide and fertilizer needs. It is the second most important vegetable fibre after cotton, in terms of usage, global consumption, production, and availability.
Advantages of jute include good insulating and anti static properties, as well as having low thermal conductivity and a moderate moisture regain. Other advantages of jute include acoustic insulating properties and manufacture with no skin irritations. Jute has the ability to be blended with other fibres, both synthetic and natural, and accepts cellulosic dye classes such as natural, basic, vat, sulfur, reactive, and pigment dyes. Jute can also be blended with wool.

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Myths & Legends

While jute craft is taken into consideration, one ruefully reminiscences the illustrious observation of the Mughal emperor about coconut; the same fruit instills a cup of sherbet and luscious fruit.
The usage of Jute as a raw material unfurled its existence in the ancient Indian scriptures namely 'Manu Samhita' and 'Mahabharata'. Evidence of the trade of jute cloth in the 16th century still whispers from the pages of history. "Ain-i-Akbari" (1590) written by Abul Fazl during the reign of Akbar (1542-1605), mentions sackcloth originating from Bengal, for instance, 'the poor villagers of India used to wear clothes made of jute. The weavers, who used to spin cotton yarns as well, used simple handlooms and hand spinning wheels.'

History

Jute has been in use since time immemorial. The exact time is not charted since it is a natural fibre, abundant and easily put to use. Several historical documents have the mention of the material. History states, that Indians, especially Bengalis, used ropes and twines made of white jute, for household and other uses.
From 17th to 20th century, the British East India Company delegated the jute industry in India, which was the first jute trader. During 20th century, Margaret Donnelly I, a mill landowner in Dundee, first set up the jute mill in India. In the year 1793 East India Company exported the first consignment of Jute. In the beginning of year 1830, Dundee spinners have determined spinning of Jute yarn by transfiguring their power driven flax machinery. This lead to an increase in the export and production of raw jute from the Indian subcontinent, which was the sole supplier of jute. The major jute growing areas were mainly in Bengal at the Kolkata side. In 1869, five mills were established with around 950 looms, the growth was so fast, that by the year 1910, 38 companies were operating around 30,685 looms, rendering more than a billion yards of cloth and over 450 million bags.

In the year 1880, jute industry has acquired almost the whole of Dundee and Calcutta. In the following three decades, the jute industry in India enjoyed even more remarkable expansion, rising to commanding leadership by 1939 with a total of 68,377 looms, concentrated mainly on the River Hooghly near Calcutta. These mills alone have proved able to supply the world demand. Then later in 19th century, the manufacturing of jute had started in other countries also like in France, America, Italy, Austria, Russia, Belgium and Germany.
Calcutta (now Kolkata) had the raw material close by as the jute growing areas were mainly in Bengal. There was an abundant supply of labour, ample coal for power, and the city was ideally situated for shipping to world markets. The first jute mill was established at Rishra, on the River Hooghly near Calcutta in 1855 when Mr. George Acland brought jute-spinning machinery from Dundee. Four years later, the first power driven weaving factory was set up.
The earliest goods woven of jute in Dundee were coarse bagging materials. With longer experience, however, finer fabrics called burlap, or hessian as it is known in India were produced. This superior cloth met a ready sale and, eventually, the Indian Jute Mills began to turn out these fabrics. The natural advantage these mills enjoyed soon gave Calcutta world leadership in burlap and bagging materials and the mills in Dundee and other countries turned to specialties, a great variety of which were developed.
After the fall of British Empire in India during 1947, most of the Jute Barons started to evacuate India, leaving behind the industrial setup of the Jute Industry. Most of the jute mills in India were taken over by the Marwaris businessmen.

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Design

The jute fibres are braided in different styles for different products:
- Twisting braid for wall and door hangings
- Normal braid with three splits for Pouch, Hand bag, Door hanging, Table Mat, Dry flower Basket, Floor mat, Pen stand, Pot, Hat, Wall Hanging
- Pineapple braid with four splits to make handbags

Various other designs include the following processes:
Stitching ~ Jute cloth is cut according to the required pattern and then the pieces are stitched together on the sewing machine to come up with various products such as bags.
Crochet ~ Crochet is a process of creating fabric from yarn, thread, or other material strands using a crochet hook. Crocheting, like knitting, consists of pulling loops through other loops, but additionally incorporates wrapping the working material around the hook one or more times.
Sticking ~ Jute cloth is cut and various embellishment materials are stuck onto the same to create jewellery.

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Challenges

Some noted disadvantages of jute include poor draping characteristics and crease resistance, brittleness, fibre shedding, and yellowing in sunlight. Jute has a decreased strength when wet, and also becomes subject to microbial attack in humid climates.
The jute craft has not gained popularity on a commercial stage. The products are mostly sold during exhibitions, to which many craftsmen are not able to make due to heavy taxes. The biggest threat to the jute products is the rats. They have to be stored carefully and measures taken to keep rodents away.
Indian states have taken initiative to promote the creativity and sales of jute crafts. Since the antiquity jute has remained the favourite material for its utilitarian and eco friendly quality. The present scenario of jute industry offers a huge inspiration to the jute craft in India and encourages its expansion and demand in abroad. With the progression of time, this established form of Jute craft is flourishing in the national and international market.

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