India: The Textile Capital of the World

For centuries India has played a pivotal role in the textile industry, and perhaps more than any other culture has influenced fabric design. For over 3,000 years Indian textile artisans have been weaving, painting, dyeing and embellishing luxurious fabrics. In India, textiles were associated with ceremonial rituals and special occasions. For example, a strip of cloth used as offerings around a Hindu shrine or given to mark a new birth, a special birthday or a marriage. Many of our popular terms for fabric such as calico, gingham and khaki were incorporated into the English language during the British Raj, when India was under British rule.

Today, India is one of the world’s largest exporters of textiles. Fine Indian cotton is grown on the Deccan lava plateau to the textile centers in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Each part of India has its own distinct design as well as style. For example, Kashmir might favor a more paisley pattern, Gujarat is known for their bold and colorful fabrics and in Chennai, formerly Madras, you’ll find Indian Madras Plaids.

Via Victoria and Albert Museum. Indian Chintz, circa 1700

This above hand painted Indian Chintz fabric from the 1700s looks similar to our Duralee Fabric below. A sure testament that some fabric designs truly stand the test of time.

Duralee Fabrics Available at DecoratorsBest

If you are looking for another Indian fabric that will give your home a contemporary look check out our Deco Flower – Berry fabric from F. Schumacher Fabric.

F. Schumacher Fabric Available at DecoratorsBest

The paisley design has been influenced by many cultures, but came to the West as a result of the trade in cashmere goods from the Vale of Kashmir, down to India, and then to Europe.

C1580 Kama shoots his arrow at Krishna, sporting a patka, tied at the waist. This type of decoration influenced later shawl designs.

When cashmere shawls were first brought to the West they were a status symbol, and worked well with the simple, linear neoclassical fashions.

Untitled, Thomas P Hall, c. 1850
F. Schumacher Fabric Available at DecoratorsBest
Empress Josephine by Gros, 1809

The Schumacher fabric below is a modern representation of the timeless tear drop paisley design.

Ambala Paisley - Greige

Some more of our fabrics that celebrate Indian textiles are Chale De Cachemire – Sienna from F. Schumacher Fabric. It is reminiscent of a paisley print often worn by nobility.

We are excited to introduce a new blog series featuring fabrics from around the world. We chose India as our first in the series because of its historical significance to the textile industry. We’d love to hear what countries you think have helped inspire and shape our fabrics.

2 thoughts on “India: The Textile Capital of the World

  1. I definitely liked the post. I think it’s definitely heartening you got to share your thoughts on this subject. It will definitely enlighten people to get to know what you think about. Best

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