Indian Textiles and Literature

Indian Textiles and Literature

Dwijendra Kumar

Pic Courtesy: Preeti Upreti, Mrs Asia Pacific Queen of Substance, Singapore 2017

Indian literature includes references about weaving and multiple textiles designs, which is a testament to India’s vibrant tradition.

The first literary information about Indian textiles is supposedly documented in Rigveda. In Rigveda, references related to techniques used in spinning, weaving as well as the materials used in those processes are made.

Artharva Veda mentions that day and night spread light and darkness over Earth like weavers through a shuttle on the loom.The two ancient epics Ramayana and Mahabharat, also include references to the diverse array of fabrics used in those days.

The aristocracy wore rich styles, whereas ascetics and common people wore simple clothes, according to Ramayana.

Mahabharata, on the other hand, includes references to fabrics that had a pearl woven fringe.

References to ancient textiles and silk textiles have been mentioned in traditional Buddhist scripts as well.

According to legend, when a courtesan named Amrapali met Gautam Buddha in Vaishali, she wore a richly woven semi-transparent sari, which reflected the ancient Indian weaver’s technical expertise.

Skilled spinners and weavers of Kashi who produced muslin fabrics through which oil could seep through were also mentioned in Buddhist literature.

Many classical writers have given accounts of pure gold robes and Indian flowered robes. In the 5th-7th century AD, Bana and Kalidasa mentioned richly patterned articles of apparel.

The aristocracy used the Muslin fabric during the medieval times. It was mentioned in contemporary literature as well.

According to a popular legend, Emperor Aurungzeb’s daughter, Princess Zeba Unnissa, presented herself before him while wrapped up in seven layers of muslin. Despite that, he deemed her outfit revealing and scolded her bitterly.

In Ain-I-Akbari, Abu Fazal referred to a rich variety in the realm of Indian textiles.

In his book Glimpses of World History, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru wrote about Indian textile industry: “Four thousand year old mummies of Egypt were wrapped in fine Indian muslin.

The skill of Indian artisan was famous in the East as well as the West…The East India Company carried on a very profitable business of selling Indian made linens and woolens, and silk and embroidered goods.”

Some of the famous books written in contemporary times on this subject include “Costumes and Textiles of Royal India” by Ritu Kumar, who is known for promoting traditional fabrics and crafts in the designing field.

“A Celebration of Style” by the designer duo Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, and “Saris in India” and “Tradition and Beyond” by Rta Kapur Chisti are other popular titles.

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