India the land of culture and crafts has been known to the world for its magnificent textile arts since ages. It will not be wrong to say that the World history of Textiles is incomplete without the mention of India and the Indian traditional textiles. Records of textiles once imported from our country and now reserved in the museums worldwide itself suggest the captivating grandeur of Indian textile pieces.

The sensibilities of nature and emotions bestowed in the textile pieces by Indian artists have always fascinated courts and royalty in India as well as in foreign lands.

Let us get familiar with these phenomenal text-styles and world famous crafts from India.

BALUCHARI

Baluchari refers to the traditional weaving of silk saris with floral or geometrical silk brocaded designs on it. The Baluchari saris are characterized by artistic motifs depicting scenes from Ramayana or sculptures made on historical temples weaved on the sari borders. Others may include motifs like animals, vegetation, miniscule images of human beings, marriage processions, brides in palanquins, horse riders, ethnic musicians. One important feature to notice is the white outlining of the motifs. Nowadays Baluchari style sarees are woven using highly mercerised cotton thread and silky threadwork ornament in bold colors.

Belongs to – West Bengal

Silk Baluchari

Silk Baluchari

BROCADE

A richly woven fabric characterized by raised floral designs attained either by weaving gold and silver threads (zari) or silk threads on a foundation of pure silk or silk and cotton blends. Silk being strong, smooth, fine and durable facilitated weaving of fabulous Brocades. Broadly brocades are classified as pure silk or silk & cotton brocades and zari brocades with gold and silver threads. Natural colours define the mood and poetic association in the fabric. Few apt poetic names like chand tara (moon and stars), dhupchhaon (sunshine and shade), mazchar (ripples of silver), morgala (peacock’s neck), bulbul chasm (nightingale’s eyes) distinguish artistic brocades. Brocades are also famous as ‘Kinkhab‘ literal meaning ‘less dream’, owing to the high content of silver and gold threads, the texture becomes abrasive to the skin which makes one almost sleepless and hence few or less dreams.

Belongs to – Varanasi & Surat

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CHANDERI

Chanderi refers to a shimmering cotton fabric which is famous for being light weight and having sheer texture and glossy transparency. Practiced exclusively in a town called Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh, India, the art derived its name from. Saris weaved out of chanderi are best for summer wear. Motifs used in chanderi weaving are mostly inspired from nature (earth and sky). Few of them are Swans (hamsa), gold coins (asharfi), trees, fruits, flowers and heavenly bodies. Soft pastel hues characterize chanderi fabrics however, timeless combinations of bright colour borders on an off white base, or red on black, also exist now.

Belongs to – Madhya Pradesh

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CHINTZ

It refers to a painted or stained calico cloth (Calico is unbleached fabric, often not fully processed, cotton), often glazed which originally belongs to India. The term ‘chintz’ is derived from the Indian word ‘chint’ meaning broad, gaudily printed fabric. The intricately patterned large flowers, birds and other pictorial scenes in different bright colours on lighter background characterize chintz. During the 17th and 18th centuries they were first imported to Europe from India and became a popular choice for bed covers, quilts and draperies. Afterwards they began reproducing Indian designs there and later added their own innovative patterns. A well known Chintz make was “toile de Jouy” which was manufactured in Jouy, France between 1700 and 1843.

Belongs to – Coromandel Coast, South East India

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JAMAWAR

The glory, and the colors of nature (flora and fauna) captured skillfully on cloth characterize the famous Jamawars of Kashmir. ‘Jama’ means robe and ‘war’ is yard. King and nobles bought the woven fabric by the yard, wearing it as a gown or using it as a wrap or shawl.

Belongs to – Kashmir

JAMDANI

Jamdani refers to weaving intricate floral and geometric designs and patterned borders on very fine cotton muslin or silk base for making mostly saris. The word Jamdani is of Persian origin where ‘Jam’ means flower and ‘Dani’ means a vase or a container. The base fabric for Jamdani is unbleached cotton yarn and the design is woven using bleached cotton yarns so that a light-and-dark effect is created.  Some of the famous Jamdani patterns are ‘Panna hazaar’ (means a thousand emeralds), ‘Phulwar’, usually worked on pure black, blue black, grey or off-white background colours and the ‘Kalka’ (paisley).

Belongs to – West Bengal

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PATOLA

Patola is one of the famous textiles from Gujarat characterized by weaving of separately dyed warp and weft yarns to create surface motifs as per the design. The term patola is derived from the Sanskrit word pattal (a spindle shaped gourd). Few well known designs are ‘Rattan chowk’ (where diamonds cross with diamonds as they are interspersed around walnut), ‘Narikunjar’ (shows motifs of dancing girl, parrot and elephant), ‘Chhabri’ is a basket made up by four elephants, ‘Waghkunjar’ (shows tiger and elephant), ‘Wadi Bhaff’ (shows motif of flowering creeper). Also there is a variety of leaf and flower and geometrical patterns. The colours used are vivid, fast and pleasantly harmonized.

Belongs to – Gujarat

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Gujarat Patola

Gujarat Patola

PHULKARI

It is an embroidery technique for decorating shawls and dupattas for daily as well as ceremonial uses with flowery surface. Phulkari literally means “flowering”. Odinis covered entirely with heavy phulkari embroidery are famous as Baghs and are customarily given to brides at the time of wedding. The darn stitch carried out on the wrong side of coarse cotton cloth with colored silken thread characterizes phulkari. Bright coloured silk threads like golden yellow, crimson, red, orange, green and pink are usually used. The motifs like flowers, fruits or birds and other carrying a rich repertoire of the folklore and from everyday life are generally embroidered on the cloth.

Belongs to – Punjab

Phulkari Embroidery

Phulkari Embroidery

Phulkari Odini, Patiala

Phulkari Odini, Patiala

The images in this article are sourced.

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