Bangladeshi Shital Pati

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

This item is a traditional Bangladeshi woven mat called a "Shital Pati." It is woven by hand using strips of cane called Murta. Usually, men collect the plant, and women weave. First, thin strips are cut from the exterior of the plant, and then dried in the sun. The first layer of the plant is usually more expensive than the second layer underneath it. Second, some of the strips are chosen to be dyed for various designs. Young village girls tend to learn weaving and creating designs (such as patterns, flowers, words, or names) from a young age, and this is seen as a respectable skill that can be displayed to other families for marriage inquiries. These mats, when completed, are often used in the household for practical purposes such as for eating meals on (in areas where eating on tables and chairs isn't common), but are also used as gifts (during marriage) or as display items. 
This particular mat was given to my mother by her cousin when we visited Bangladesh in 2005. It's a huge mat that can cover an entire room, and because of the material it was made with, it is smooth, soft but sturdy, cool, and has waterproof properties. My mother recalled that when she was very young, her grandmother would make small mats for individual family members to sit on while eating, and that these mats are usually made for others by people who love them.  

Place(s): Bangladesh, NYC
Year: 2005

– Fatema T. Alam

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant