THE TEXTILES OF INDIA
Over 2 millennia ago trade routes were established that allowed Indian
textiles to reach China, Mesopotamia and the even the Roman Empire.
Unfortunately, most surviving artifacts are from the 15th century and later.
Over the sub-contient today the indigenous crafts display numerous embroidery
arts, printed textiles, and simple to complex painted fabrics all used to
produce merchandise ranging from curtains to shawls. Bolts of material from the
mills of Uttar Pradesh have been used in such unique settings as the ancestral
homes of England and when made up into curtains are truly spectacular and sell
for thousands of dollars.
Even today the fly-shuttle loom, throw-shuttle loom, pit loom and loin
loom are all used to make Indian textiles. The techniques are ancient and
those in use produce a variety of types of textiles. Here we show images
of some of these work-shops and their products.
Traditionally, the fiber art of India is a
localized, home industry that can be classified as micro-economics. For example,
we purchased our Chikan embroidery from a friend who is a wonderful example of a
woman helping the previously impoverished women of her community. Although she
is Hindu she has organized a group of Muslim women to produce beautiful Chikan
Our friend, the manufacturer,
selects and oversees the design of the wooden blocks that are the initial phase
of fabric design. These wooden blocks are then dipped in ink and the design
embedded in the wood is stamped onto fabric, which is then passed to the
stitchers. A single person specializes in producing a single style of stitch and
works on the fabric until all of the stitches of one kind are complete. The
fabric is then passed on to another stitcher for the next type of stitch, that
will be embedded into the fiber-art. Between each set of stitches the piece of
fabric is checked, by the manufacturer, for stitch-quality-control. If the work
does not pass her visual inspection it is sent back to have the offending
stich-work redone. The quality-control for such work is extremely tight, and
indeed fabric produced from this particular work-shop was used to produce a
dress worn by a female winner of an Academy Motion Picture Award. For this work
she pays her workers more than the local rate but with the understanding that
she will not tolerate a poor product.
Chikan embroidery can produce particularly fine examples of Indian fiber-art.
Chikan consists of 32 different types of stitches,
usually done on fine fabric, which create a shadow or lacy effect. The designs
are printed on the fabric using hand-carved wooden blocks. The result is a
fabric ornamented with stiches.
Phulkari embroidery develops geometric
patterns with a horizontal and vertical darn-stich up to 0.25" long. Variant
stiches include stem-, satin-, herring bone- and chain-stiches.
Bagh embroidery has stitches so dense that a double layered fabric is produced.
Ikat is a weave design determined by tie-dying the original
thread. In single Ikat only the warp or the weft is tie-dyed. In double Ikat
motifs are achieved by a juxtapositioning of similarly dyed shades on equal
lengths of warp and weft.
Brocade embroidery had additional threads
placed in between the regular warp and weft. Silver and gold thread will produce
a raised ornament, or zari brocade, which may be so dense that the background
silk is almost invisible: this is called kinkhab brocade.
Jamdani fabric has silver, gold or colored thread added along the warp.
Mashru is a fabric with a silk warp, and a cotton weft, probably
originally woven for Muslim men. The word is derived from permitted meaning in
this case a permitted cloth.
Pashmina produced from the wool of
Himalayan goats provides in its finest form the thread for the fabled shahtoosh
shawl, reputably the finest of all weaves, which in its normal form can be drawn
through a finger ring. Legend has it that the finest ever made was drawn through
the eye of a needle! Collectors are willing to pay large amounts of money for
old fine shahtoosh shawls.
Although double Ikat is perhaps the most sophisticated of the
tie-dyers art there are many others farics where tie-dying produces spectactular
effects. Bandhni textiles use numerous tiny dots produced by tie-dying with a
We are able to get many kinds and sizes of
fabric and textile for interior designers: bedspreads, tablecloths and curtains.
Our method of operation is the send designs displayed as attached images sent to
you via eMailwhilst we are on a buying expedition. You simple then tell us to
the quantity and item[s] you wish us to buy for you.
Additonal examples of the types of fabric-arts available from India are shown below. Some
of this material is indicated for sale but it is possible for us to
purchase similar material to that which is not for sale. Contact us with your
Chikan: applique work from Lucknow
On synthetic fabric. 32 inches wide, 92 inches long.
Chikan table, place and tray cloths are embroided on very fine cotton. They are
very delicate and beautifully worked. These are normally produced in three
sizes. The standard size has 8 table napkins, the large 12 table napkins, and
the extra large 24 table napkins. The table cloths can be made even larger and
used as a beautiful bed cover as we illustrate below.
Shawls and Saris Chikan fish design on synthetic fabric. 32
inches wide, 92 inches long.
Tie-dye cotton shawl from Andhra Pradesh. 96 inches by 40 inches.
cotton shawl from Andhra Pradesh. 96 inches by 40 inches.
Silk embroidery on cotton saris from Andhra Pradesh. Each sari a unique piece of art,
45 inches wide and 200 inches long.
and dye silk scarfs from Gutaraj. 40 inches wide by 78 inches long.
Modern designer fiber-art
Fabulous chain stitch work from northern India
Curtaining fifty-four  inches wide.
Sold in 45-55 meter bolts.
Wool on cotton
chain stitched carpet from Lucknow.
ITEMS FOR SALE
Ethnic tribal work
Each item is totally unique and an example of tribal fiber handicrafting
Hand crafted chain stitched with tribal designs. 18 feet 3 inches long.
Hand crafted embroidered chain stitched with tribal designs. 13 feet 7 inches long.