The History of Indian Textile Art and Clothing
The British East India Company received its charter in 1600 and the Dutch East India Company was founded two years later. These agencies bought textiles in India for silver and gold, exchanged them for spices grown in the Malay Islands, and sold the spices in Europe and Asia. Soon Indian textiles were exported directly to Europe, where they became highly fashionable. The popularity of Indian textiles is evidenced in the number of words that have made their way into English: calico, pajama, gingham, dungaree, chintz, and khaki. The luxury textiles coveted for centuries are now collected in museums, where they are often grouped and studied on the basis of their patterns of production.
Ritu Kumar stated that Forbes Watson acknowledged, that the intrinsic aesthetic refinement of India’s clothing required an understanding of oriental tastes which according to him would ensure a market in India for the same. His study advocated the sophistication of colour and form of India’s textiles in order that English manufacturers might achieve the sense of rhythm and harmony inherent in them. He explained that British manufacturers followed a rule of exporting or making things with an essence of British culture rather than taking its true Indian form which in turn failed as Indian manufacturers could do it best originally and the products value decreased when it lost its true essence. And thus realising the fact how a charm of an Indian product was with its true colour and not modified. According to Priyanka Arora, Since 1890 till the present world fashion has seen tremendous influences from the Indian culture in the British fashion resulting from the artists and designers renowned interest in Art Nouveau. She believes that Indian textiles and work can be seen in any store or designer line. Eastern inspired clothing like embroidered tunics, beaded necklines on dresses and shirts, jewelled handbags in Sari fabrics, reminiscing different characteristics from the East have been influencing British designers . Pashminas, for example, are now an everyday basic item for most British women. Around the 1940’s the Nehru jacket became a big trend and thanks to The Beatles and it is still an acclaimed collar style in shirts, coats and jackets. Even pagoda sleeves was an eastern trend which was incorporated in western fashion. The most noted designers according to her bidding on exotic eastern style in their creations are: Max Mara, exploring sexy necklines and strong fabrics ,Armani, Jean Paul Gautier and Versace are only some of the top names reaching out to their masculine lines by including eastern elements to their creations, like pants made with fabrics, necklines, printed belts and sandals with the use of heavy silk. She also argues that the Boho Chic look, on the other hand is a representation of western influence on eastern culture. Thus concluding by saying that its a unique style where one can appreciate the fusion of both worlds with the modern and contemporary side of the western fashion and just a hint of eastern flair in the jewels and beading. Season to season, we see fashion face some radical changes, but the east and west mixture is inescapable, resulting always in a beautiful, artistic and also commercial masterpiece representing a multicultural society of designers and consumers. Salvatore Ferragamo’s famous customers in the late 1930’s was Indira Devi, the maharani of Cooch Behar. Ferragamo had designed about 100 shoes for her which were adorned with pearls, rubies, emeralds and diamonds which were sent from India by the maharani. These were reproduced for his collection in the year 2003 for an opening of a new store. As Laura McLean -Ferris has written about KENZO a world famous designer who evolved in 1970’s that his designs are a combination of details which have been taken from all around the globe, creating a fusion of folklore styles that vibrate with a blend of fantasy and reality. Which brings out the importance of fusion of a cultures in her view of the designers work. It also talks about how KENZO used both east and west traditions together to create an aesthetic that is globally appealing.
Technology seems to be a power weapon in the quest for domination. The peripheral countries are structurally disabled to pull themselves out of the murky situation and formulate policies that are development oriented. The core states maintain the system as well as try to pull out the peripheral states by offering their surplus (Goldfrank, 2000). Do I agree with this world-systems theory? It is quite evident that the third world countries have remained in the same status as they were economically; while the developed countries continue to rich themselves from the spoils they get from their exploits. Even though the developed world is offering help on one hand, the other hand seems to be taking. This makes me agree with wallerstein’s theory.
Tapestry techniques of weaving patterns is applied with gold and silk threads to make paithani sarees. About 4 – 24 shuttles are employed to produce the design. It is a slow and laborious work. It may take up to 8 days to produce one sq. ft. of fabric by this technique. It takes months to upto 2 years to manufacture a paithani saree on traditional handlooms. A traditional Paithani has plain body and a pallu with tiny motifs called ‘buttis’. These buttis have various shapes like coin, flower, peas, star, etc. The main motifs of paithani are peacock, parrot, lotus, paisley, flowers, leaves, creepers & their variations.
Chase-Dunn, & Grimes P., (1995) “World-Systems Analysis.” Annual Review of Sociology. Vol. 21 p. 387-417.
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Goldfrank L., (2000). “Paradigm Regained? The Rules of Wallerstein’s World-System Method. Journal of World-Systems Research. Vol. 6. N. 2 pp. 150-195.