Hand Blockprinting, Fame, Colors, and Floral Designs of Sanganer

Sanganer Hand Blockprinting: Like every other textile lover, I visited Jaipur searching for exquisite ‘vintage’ textiles, decorated with hand block printed florals in gorgeous shades of aged reds, greens, and indigo from the era of nobility and generous patronage in the history of Jaipur. I ended up traveling 13 km away from the central city to get to this self-contained city of Sanganer packed with old structures and temples of great details and architecture. It is a town named after its unique ‘sanganeri’ hand block printing technique. It was revelatory to stumble onto Sanganer’s various sister crafts like handmade papermaking, gold and silver foil making, and cotton weaving. The small town has its artisanal ecology.

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Jacobean Embroidery a Style Based on the Folklore of England

Jacobean Embroidery a Style Based on the Folklore of England

A floor covered in rush in a medieval home

Jacobean Embroidery : We live in our current times in houses or apartments, which are fully furnished, heated in winter, and adorned extensively with textiles for aesthetic reasons and utility.  But there was a time in England and the rest of the world that houses were draughty, furniture scarce, and cloth was restricted to wool, linen, and silk. There were rushes on the floor, which dogs and often people would relieve themselves in, making interiors malodorous. People often shifted from one house to another, an itinerant lifestyle because homes became quickly unhygienic.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, an awareness began to grow about beauty and comfort, both in interiors and dress. This age coincided with a time in England when huge homes were being built, abbeys were turned into residences, and lasting peace meant that they could give attention to aesthetic (more…)

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Paisley A Genuinely Global Motif in the Design World

Paisley is a genuinely global motif that survived many years, passing through various cultures, evolving into many shapes, names, and colors. The credit for this goes to the endless love of this motif from the tastemakers worldwide. This article traces the origin, movement, evolution, and beauty of this antique motif, which is still a design identity of fashion and home companies from ‘Etro’ in Italy to ‘Kashmir Loom’ in India.

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The Mughal Emperors Love for Beautiful Flowers and Floral Designs

THE MUGHAL RULERS LOVE FOR BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS AND FLORAL DESIGNS

Bābur supervising the laying out of his Charbagh The Garden of Fidelity. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
India – ca.1590
Artists: Bishndas and Nanha From the V&A

Mughal Floral Designs – South Asian art has always been full of floral images, but this reached its zenith in the Mughal empire. During the 330 years that the dynasty ruled, most magnificent art, architecture, and craft that the world has seen were produced, and much imagery used was from flora,  particularly in the reigns of Jahāngīr and Shah Jahan. However, Bābur, Humayun, and Akbar are all recorded as profoundly interested in gardens and flowers.  One of Babur’s first actions in India was to make a garden, the Charbagh.

The popularity of floral motifs in Mughal art was because traditionally, living creatures and humans were not supposed to be depicted in Islamic art. Therefore, the plant kingdom provided subjects that were non-controversial and capable of stylization.

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Toile de Jouy, the Fabric Symbolic of French Savoir-faire

Toile de Jouy

In 1785 Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf invented the first machine for printing wallpaper, later printing on cotton fabric at his factory in Jouy-en-Josas, hence the prints were known as Toile de Jouy

The term ‘Toile de Jouy’ (meaning, “cloth from Jouy”) refers to the printed cotton produced by the Oberkampf textile manufactory at Jouy en Josas in Normandy from 1760 to 1843. It is most often associated with a Rococo pattern of Shepherds and shepherdesses encircled with floral garlands, usually in blue or pink, on a white background. The term is generic and encompasses a wide range of designs from Neoclassical to more generalized floral patterns.

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Handwoven Diaphanous Muslin, The Story of the World’s Finest Fabric

Muslin- The word ‘Muslin’ is believed to derive from Marco Polo’s description of the cotton trade in Mosul, Iraq. Another view is that of fashion historian Susan Greene, who wrote that the name arose in the 18th century from mousse, the French word for “foam.” The word is most likely derived from the port of Machilipatnam, called Masulipatnam earlier, from where muslin was exported to South Asia, the Roman Empire, Ethiopia, and Egypt, where it was famously used to wrap mummies.  It was often traded for ivory and rhinoceros horn by Greek and Arab merchants.  (more…)

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A Humble Origin & Fascinating Stories of Fashionable Madras Checks

Madras Checks: My all-time favorite, and always in fashion, Madras checks stem from a humble origin with fascinating and quirky twists and turns in their journey.

The Origin of Madras Checks Fabric

Around the 12th century, Madras Checks was a piece of handloom clothing for India’s peasant class in the village called Madraspatnam (Madras now Chennai). The local weavers would extract the soft fibers from the “tip-skin” of native trees to weave 36″ wide square handkerchiefs, which were then block printed with bright colored check patterns.  They were worn as a garment similar to a sarong wrapped around the waist and extending to the ankles, called a lungi.

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Book Review on Chikankari Embroidery, A Lucknawi Tradition by Paola Manfredi

Chikankari Embroidery, A Lucknawi Tradition.

As I turned the pages of Paola Manfredi’s pioneering book on the past and present of Chikankari Embroidery, one of the most luxurious and evergreen traditional embroideries from the Indian Subcontinent,  I feel proud of the culture that has patronized the excellent details and flair for this artistry. Nonetheless, the attention to detail is so nuanced( whether it is a small-cap or a full bodice) that I believe it will be an injustice to the research and images shared in the book if one attempts to discern everything in one read. (more…)

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Natural Dyes – The History of Extraction of Beautiful Plant Pigments

NATURAL DYES – THE HISTORY OF EXTRACTION OF PLANT PIGMENTS

Last week, I had written about dyes extracted from animals. In continuation of the story of natural dyes, I will describe the primary dyes extracted from plant sources and the often violent history associated with at least one of these.   (more…)

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Matisse’s Art and Textiles. How Textile Stimulated His Creative Powers To A New Pictorial Reality

MATISSE’S ART AND TEXTILES: Last week, As I was researching the works of artists who found inspiration in textiles, I came across the book ‘Matisse: His Art and His Textiles.’

Matisse had a blood association with textiles as he was born to a family of expert weavers in the French town of Le Cateau-Cambresis and brought up at Bohain-en-Vermandois in Picardy in Northern France. Since the Middle Ages, this region had been the center for manufacturing textiles- linen, wool, and silk. By the end of the nineteenth century, when Matisse was growing up, Bohain was renowned as a luxury fabric producer. – embossed and patterned velvet, tulle, voile, and above all, silk. It was second to none in supplying the top end of the Paris fashion trade.

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