I’ve chosen this week’s book from our fashion and textiles collection, Indian Textiles by John Gillow and Nicholas Barnard, in anticipation of my trip to the V&A tomorrow to see The Fabric of India exhibition. The book examines the long history of textile production in India, noting that the earliest textile finds at Mohenjo-daro on the Indus River date back to the third millennium BC. Unsurprisingly, textiles have contributed to the economic and cultural history of the country. The indigenous tribes, travelers and invaders have all contributed to the variety of techniques and colours associated with textiles from this country. The next chapter looks at the materials, dyes and yarns, then each of the following sections explore the techniques of a particular area, north, south, east, west India; Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have their own chapters.
I think my favourite is the western Kutch style with its bright colours and mirror work. These textiles were made in the home and formed part of a marriage dowry. They include costume for the bride and groom, hangings for the new home and ornamental coverings for their animals. There are so many different techniques of embroidery, weaving, dyeing and printing covered in this volume, you cannot fail to be inspired by something.
I’ve also had the good fortune to see an exhibition of Gillow’s personal collection of Islamic textiles some years ago. I believe he collects textiles from all over the world and he has published many books about them. We have some of them in the library. Why not explore the 746 section on the first floor for yourself – you will be amazed at the number of books we have relating to world textiles! Enjoy!