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Indian Textile


India’s textiles both woven and printed that have dazzled the world have their own fabulous stories to tell. Stretched along the length and breath of the country each region has its won characteristic fabric that weaves its history. There are hundreds of different textiles in India but some of the popular ones are favourites with everyone.

The brocades of Varanasi are the most well known of Indian textiles. The brocade or kinkhwab (fabric of dreams)is the weaving of pure silk and gold strands to create a lush fabric. Each region ahs its won individual brocade like the Aashavali, Paithani, Kanjeevaram, Tanchoi, Balucheri and Jamewar. Creating the jala are the naqsshaband or master craftsment of Varanasi. From floral patterns to hunting scene patterns, designs have been adapted to suit contemporary times. A variety of motifs like creepers, flowers, birds, animals, architectural and human forms are incorporated in a single design.

Gujarat is generally considered the home of silk and brocade weaving after Varanasi. Even during the reign of Akbar, Gujarat was a famous center for weaving brocades, velvets and silks. The Aashavali from the town of Aashval is popular for its rich colours in contrast to the simple brocade border. The Aashivali woven ininlay technique has four to five coloured silk threads interspersed with jari (gold thread). Stylized parrots, peacocks, lions and doves appear quite often with trees and flowers.

From Paithan the town in Maharashtra comes the regal Paithanai. Many royal households own the Paithani which could take months to weave. Motifs of parrots and flowers are very popular and the Paithani is treated as an heirloom once it is bought.

Tanchoi was brought to India from China by the three Choi brothers (hence the name) who settled in Surat to weave the fabric with a different technique-a combination of Indian and Chinese style. The colours are subtle, the drape is light and the intricate work with extra floates which are blended into the fabric gives it an embroidered look based on the satin weaving style.

One of the most coveted of Indian fabrics, the double Ikat Patola, originates from various stateslike Gujarat, Orissa and Pochampalli in Andhra Pradesh. The double Ikat resist dyed Patola from Orissa and Patan in Gujarat is very intricate in weave. While the single Ikat from rajkot is more affordable it is the double Ikat that is regarded as a masterpiece. Prices can be quite exorbitant because a Patola is valued for its purity of silk.

From the south comes the Temple Sari, the Kanjeevaram, from the town of Kanchipram. To own it is every birde’s dream because of its grandeur of weave. The Kanjeevaram sari was first woven around 400 years ago and since then this vibrantly coloured sari very often checks in silk yarn or gold threads, is a favourite. Many of the designs are variations of vertical and horizontal lines and checks.

From the Deccan comes the Gadhwal sari which represents a harmonious look of contrast. The sari originating form the Decan has the influence from the south, north, east and west of India. A blend of silk and cotton, the borders are normally in contrasting colours with intricate motifs.

From the colourful state of Rajasthan comes the Tissue Kotah woven in pure cotton. It is one of the lightest saris ideal for the warm weather of India.

Bhagalpur, Chanderi and Maheshwari are fabrics from different states with a beautiful combination of cotton and silk spun to create an extremely light fabric. The bhagalpur comes from Bihar, the Chanderi from the south and Maheshwaris from Madhya Pradesh. The silk yarn in the warp and a very fine cotton thread in the weft go to make them. The Chanderi made of super fine silk or Cotton has a light tissue-like appearance while the Maheshwari made of spun silk and cotton yarn has exquisite and intricate borders sometimes with a touch of gold.

The Jamewar fabric inspired by the Jamewar shawl with the paisley as the focus of attention is the beauteous fabric of Kashmir. Created in wool, cotton and silk, it has tht timeless beauty that is admired by all. The weft thread alone forms the pattern and is inserted by means of wooden spools without the use of a shuttle. It is a time consuming process which has made the hand woven Jamevar almost extinct.

From the town of Baluchar in Bengal comes the Baluchari textiles. It was some time in 1704 that the first Baluchar weaving took place. At one stage no gold or silver thread was used except the pure mulberry silk in the making of the fabric. The important feature is the white outlining of ht emotifs like animals, vegetation and figuarative patterns.

The most prominent of printing techniques is the Kalamkari from Andhra Pradesh. The world Kalamkari literally means pen of stylus work which is a combination of printing and painting. The themes are normally from mythology and the fabrics were first used im temples and religious places. The Kalamkari fabric requires patience and skill. But with modern methods the design is created with wooden blocks and stamped on the cloth.

The Block Print is what India is famous for. The Sanganer prints of Jaipur, Nandana prints of Madhya Pradesh and Batiks of Bengal provide a vast almost unlimited choice.

The Bandhani and Leheria are two tie-and-dye methods whicha re popular in Rajasthan and Gujarat. For Bandhani the fabric is tied into minute knots to form a designand then dipped into the dye, the Leheria (waves) pattern is also achieved with tie-and-dye techniques. Diagonal lines in a single colour across a white background create a magical effect.

The beauty of India fabrics is so hypnotizing that the West has been enchanted by it and ahs never resisted creating garments from them. Indian master craftsmen are being encouraged to move with the times and attempts innovations in traditional designs so that the art for weaving Indian textiles is kept alive.