Muslin Cotton

Saiful Islam and scientist at UK university researching ‘phuti karpas’ DNA.
Of all the unique items that have come together for muslin’s manufacture, none is more so than its cotton, the renowned, ‘phuti karpas’, known scientifically as Gossypium Arboreum Var. Neglecta
The world’s fascination with Indian cotton has been registered in many early records.  The first commercial mention of Indian cotton is in the Periplus of the Erythraen Sea (63 BC) by an unknown scholar and one of the more reliable records of trade in the Indian Ocean area during that era.  The fine cotton cloths (muslins) reputed to come from Bengal and known to Greeks as, ‘Gangitiki’.  The text states that, ‘muslins of the finest sorts, which are called Gangetic’, were shipped from a ‘market town’, which has the same name. 
Ralph Fitch, who travelled in India in 1583, speaks of the finest cotton cloth being made at ‘Sinnergan’ (the later Sonargaon, a historic town near Dhaka which was the seat of government during the Bengal Sultanate). 
Professor Abdul Karim, writing much later in 1963 in his book, ‘Dhakai Muslin’, points out that although karpas was grown in most of Bengal, muslin was woven with karpas found only in places near Dhaka.  He states, ‘For muslin … [of] the best quality phuti karpas was used.  Phuti karpas grew only along the western bank of the Meghna river’. 
Today, though the phuti karpas is believed to be extinct, this project team has since mid 2014, visited multiple locations on the river banks of Bangladesh, from Kapasia, Gazipur, to Mymensingh, Barisal and the Chittagong Hill Tracts.  We have travelled to the herbariums of Jordan, Kew (UK), Assam and Kolkata, India, collecting samples and bringing them back to be replanted (with BCDB) along the banks of the Meghna. 
By collecting samples from the specimens of phuti karpas kept abroad, Bengal Muslin has done pioneering fundamental research into the DNA of the original plant. Samples have been matched to the original and shared with researchers in Bangladesh too. 
A 70% match was found in 2017. 
Today, we continue to grow samples, collect cotton and utilize them in yarn spun abroad along with other Indian cotton.