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Threads of Tradition: The Artistic Legacy of Biren Kumar Basak

Every work of art bears a divine stamp. When art reaches its pinnacle, every artist becomes exceptional. Biren Kumar Basak is an Indian handloom weaver and Padma Shri award winner. He is a renowned manufacturer, supplier, and exporter of numerous styles of tant sarees that are well-known across the nation.


Banko Bihari Basak, his father, was a skilled weaver of Jamdani and Tangail sarees. Biren was born on May 16, 1951, into a family of weavers in the Tangail region of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). He lives in Phulia in the Nadia district with his family, some 100 km from Kolkata.  Bani, his wife, has been supporting him ever since they got married. He has a son who manages a small thread business and has yet to step into his father’s business.


At the age of 8, he began training on a pick-loom using cotton yarn that his father had lent him. Biren’s father was compelled to move because of the partition of 1962, and they eventually settled in Phulia, Chatkatala, and Santipur. He studied at Shibnath High School in Tangail till class 6. Because of the migration, Biren Basak was unable to continue his study. Instead, to help the family’s finances, he began weaving saris at a nearby facility.

Displaying His Talent At a Young Age

He began weaving Tangail sarees at the age of 12, adding embellishments and conventional borders like lotus, lamb, and vine motifs along with fish-skin patterns.

Launching His Own Business

He started the business in 1970 and obtained a Rs 10,000 loan in 1968 by mortgaging a house in Phulia that one of his brothers had bought. He wanted to expand his business to increase his customer base and popularity. He began trading bundles of saree in Kolkata, working alongside his brother Dheeran Kumar Basak. They used to go to the city by local train at 5 am every day and went from house to house carrying about 90 kg of goods on their shoulders.

Biren and Dhiren Basak and company

The tremendous demand for the premium sarees they offered and their reasonable pricing quickly paid off for their efforts. As their sarees attracted more customers, they got good orders and received more money. Within a few years, their company received widespread acclaim and generated a one crore profit.

Biren Basak’s Mastery

As the two parted ways, Biren returned to his hometown and continued his work, eventually transitioning into a saree wholesaler. At his home, he started a business with eight employees. They learned from Biren several weaving methods from the Tangail and Jamdani traditions. Biren produced cotton saris and distributed them door to door.

Area of competence

Biren Basak is a skilled weaver in Tangail and Jamdani, producing khadi muslin, silk, natural cotton, and mulberry or non-mulberry fabrics. His utilisation of both traditional and unconventional elements has garnered high recognition. He mastered the art known as Jamdani work.

Mastering His Art

His work of art includes patterns and decorations woven with traditional Indian and Bengali motifs or based on Hindu mythological figures like Lord Krishna and Ganesha. His collections featured unique pieces of art in tanned fabrics and  Indian masterpieces, which became his trademark.  He worked on weaving the first Dhakai saree with embroidered images from the Ramayana epic for nearly 2.5 years. Similarly, he completed a sari containing 1.25 lakh words in one year.

Piece of Advice

Biren Kumar advises everyone to work hard, be truthful, practise their religion, and avoid pride if they become wealthy.


Biren Kumar has received a great deal of recognition. He entered the Guinness Book of World Records for weaving the longest saree in 2018, received the ‘Sant Kabir Award’ for Minakari Jamdani Saree in 2013, ‘the Shanta Prasad Award’, ‘Certificate of Merit’ for Jamdani Shree in 2009, the India Book of Records for Jamdani Work on Lord Ganesh in 2014, Limca Book of Records for Dakai Saree Work on Krittibas Ramayan in 2015. Biren Kumar received Padmashri on November 8 2021. He was also given a National Award in 2013 for his expertise and exquisite craftsmanship and conferred with an honorary doctorate by the UK-based World Record University for depicting the Ramayana in a handloom saree.

Encouragement For Others

Biren Kumar collaborates with 5,000 craftspeople, of which 2,000 are women. He began instructing his village’s weavers to maintain the artistic tradition and cultural history of the Thangail district. He created a weaving cooperative and gave the people all the supplies and inputs they needed.

Biren Kumar Basak is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the saree business. He makes Rs. 50 crore a year as a wholesaler and has customers throughout the country. Some of his clients include Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Sourav Ganguly,renowned classical musician Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar and many more. Along with becoming a millionaire in the process, Basak is famous for revolutionising the Bengali handloom industry. He attributes his success to faith in god, honesty, and hard work. Biren, now 72, carries on a 91-year-long family legacy and spreads the creativity of Bengal textiles across the globe.

Credits and References