Right from the beginning of Indus Valley Civilization till date, India has a rich, elaborate and precious treasure of history of textiles. The journey from home spun cotton evidenced in Harappa and Mohenjodaro civilizations to a technically finished fiber used for specific applications as Technical textiles is long but interesting.

The earliest trade of Indian textiles rolls back around 2nd century BC and this can be supported with the use of the word Corbosina for Sanskrit word Karpasa (for cotton) by Caecilius (in Europe). The rise of various empires from 321 AD to 8th century BC marks the evolution of indigenous Indian clothing with great elegance and technical finesse which drew significant attention of the outside world. Evidences of cotton fabrics (originated from Gujarat) found in the tomb of Egypt further strengthen the early trade relations of India with the outer world during medieval period. During 15th and 16th centuries besides spices, Indian textiles caught the major interest of Portuguese and European traders with which a vast ocean of trade flourished. Legendary Dhaka muslins and Silk embroideries from Gujarat were amongst the items of trade initially and during 18th and 19th centuries British East India Company began export of India’s finest cottons, Muslins and Silk cloth. India soon became the prime exporter of cotton, Chintz (painted and printed cotton) and other coarse cotton varieties to other countries including China, Java, Philippines and other European countries.

Embroidered muslin, 19th century

Embroidered muslin, 19th century

Indian Chintz jacket for the elites

Indian Chintz jacket for the elites

Keep on digging the history and more strong evidences will appear clearing defining how long it has been for India busy clothing the world around from kings and queens to the common man. But the Indian supremacy over the world for textiles did not last long and soon began to fade with the laws levied in England and European countries banning imports from India or what we are aware of as the Industrial Revolution.

Though these legendary fabrics are not produced in large scale now but we can still embrace and study about them through collections treasured in books, sculptures, murals, scripts & epics and museums around the world.

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