CIS:IS.48:24/A-1956

The fabric of India : 3rd October 2015 to 10th January 2016 – Victoria and Albert Museum London

V&A museum in London is one of my favorite places on earth :) It is full of endless design goodness , creativity and tons of beauty.

An when V&A decided to partner with Good Earth for the Fabric of India exhibition , there was no way that we would let our readers miss this exotic collection of Indian textiles.

News Release
The Fabric of India Supported by Good Earth India
With thanks to Experion and NIRAV MODI

Part of the V&A India Festival 3 October 2015 – 10 January 2016
The Fabric of India is the first exhibition to fully explore the incomparably rich world of handmade textiles from India. From the earliest known Indian textile fragments to contemporary fashion, the exhibition illustrates the technical mastery and creativity of Indian textiles and is the highlight of the V&A India Festival.
Celebrating the variety, virtuosity and continuous innovation of India’s textile traditions, The Fabric of India presents approximately 200 objects made by hand. On display are examples of everyday fabrics and previously unseen treasures; from ancient ceremonial banners to contemporary saris, from sacred temple hangings to bandanna handkerchiefs, to the spectacular tent used by Tipu Sultan (1750-1799), the famed ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore.

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The exhibition offers an introduction to the raw materials and processes of making cloth by hand. Displays of the basic fibres of silk, cotton and wool illustrate the importance of India’s natural resources to its textile-making traditions. The opening section shows fabrics dyed with natural materials such as pomegranate and indigo and the complex techniques of block printing, weaving and embroidery across the ages, together creating a visual compendium of India’s astonishingly diverse array of fabrics. Highlights range from muslin embroidered with glittering green beetle wings, to a vast wall hanging appliqued with designs of elephants and geometrical patterns, to a boy’s jacket densely embroidered with brightly coloured silk thread and mirrors.
Wealth, power and religious devotion are all expressed through textiles, and the exhibition examines how fabrics were used in courtly and spiritual life. Fabrics created for temples and shrines vary widely in imagery and techniques, depending on the religions context, level of patronage and region of production. Examples on display include a Hindu narrative cloth in silk lampas weave, depicting avatars of the deity Vishnu dating to around 1570; a 16th-century Islamic talismanic shirt inscribed with verses from the Quran in ink and gold paint; a rare early Jain panel embroidered with silk thread and an 18th-century Crucifixion scene made in South-East India for an Armenian Christian church.
The exhibition also explores the range, opulence, scale and splendour of objects handmade for the rich and powerful courts of the 17th to 19th centuries. Fine hangings and large floor spreads used for decoration in the Mughal and Deccani courts depicting beautifully flowering plants are on display alongside a lavish tent used by the infamous ruler Tipu Sultan. The canopy and a wall of the tent is erected in the gallery, allowing visitors to walk inside it to see the magnificent decoration close at hand.

A wall panel from Tipu Sultan's tent. Cotton chintz with a white ground, patterned with acanthus cusped niches, each enclosing a central vase with symmetrical flower arrangement, predominantly in reds and greens, the green achieved by over-painting dyed indigo with yellow (a fugative pigment which has partially disappeared). An enlarged version of the flower-head motif appears in the main horizontal borders on a green ground, and scaled down on a yellow ground in the spandrels of the arch. Triple vertical borders separate the panels, at each end of which is a metal eyelet that has been whipped with thick cotton thread. A black and white merlon and rosette band runs along the top of the qanats. The outside of the tent is a seperate layer of coarse white cotton. Later Mughal, c.1725-50.
A wall panel from Tipu Sultan’s tent. Cotton chintz with a white ground, patterned with acanthus cusped niches, each enclosing a central vase with symmetrical flower arrangement, predominantly in reds and greens, the green achieved by over-painting dyed indigo with yellow (a fugative pigment which has partially disappeared). An enlarged version of the flower-head motif appears in the main horizontal borders on a green ground, and scaled down on a yellow ground in the spandrels of the arch. Triple vertical borders separate the panels, at each end of which is a metal eyelet that has been whipped with thick cotton thread. A black and white merlon and rosette band runs along the top of the qanats. The outside of the tent is a seperate layer of coarse white cotton. Later Mughal, c.1725-50.

There are also stunning examples of dress on view, including a glittering woman’s dress and a densely embroidered coat – one of the rarest surviving pieces of Mughal dress.

The historical and ongoing importance of textiles to the economy of India forms a key focus of The Fabric of India, with the exhibition highlighting the prevalence of Indian cloth around the world over millennia. Indian textiles have long been exported globally, as will be demonstrated by the display of three of the earliest known surviving fragments of Indian fabric dating back as far as the 3rd century. A range of pieces designed for foreign export showcase the remarkable ability of Indian artisans to adapt designs and techniques for a wide variety of different markets. Objects including an outstanding block-printed ceremonial textile from Gujarat, made in the 14th century for the Indonesian market and treasured as an heirloom piece for many centuries, and examples of simple handkerchiefs known as bandanas from Madras and Bengal, pervasive in the 18th and 19th centuries in the Middle

03._Wall_hanging_detail_cotton_appliqué_Gujarat_20th_century__Victoria_and_Albert_Museum_London

IS.155-1953 Hanging Wall hanging of embroidered cotton with silks, Gujarat, ca. 1700. Gujarat Ca. 1700 Embroidered cotton with silk yarn
IS.155-1953
Hanging
Wall hanging of embroidered cotton with silks, Gujarat, ca. 1700.
Gujarat
Ca. 1700
Embroidered cotton with silk yarn

The global export of Indian textiles became particularly evident in Europe between the 17th and 19th centuries through the popularity of chintzes. A grouping of a beautiful wall hangings, bed-covers, robes and dresses featuring chintz patterns demonstrate how traditional Indian motifs and techniques were reinterpreted to appeal to European consumers. The enormous popularity of such cloth is illustrated through a display of an elegant set of bed-hangings originally belonging to the Austrian Prince Eugene (1663 – 1736), proof that Indian dyed cotton fabrics were coveted at the highest levels of European society.
The exhibition looks at the changing world as European industrialisation threatened to eradicate Indian handmaking skills in the 19th century. Imitations of India’s cloth could be made at lower cost, particularly in British mills, and these fabrics were then imported to India, flooding the market, radically altering India’s textile economy and threatening hand-made production. Examples of cotton fabrics woven and printed in England for sale in India are displayed to illustrate this phenomenon.
The Fabric of India reveals the consequences of this exchange, illustrating the way in which European developments in industry provoked a resistance movement which saw textiles take on an important role in the development of Indian nationhood and identity. The Swadeshi (‘Own Country’) movement called for Indians to stop buying foreign goods and support indigenous production. By the early 20th century, Indian textiles became a major symbol of resistance to British rule, and in the 1930s Mahatma Gandhi further compounded this by asking Indian people to
spin and weave their own yarn and fabric by hand, to produce a cloth known as Khadi. Wearing, spinning and weaving Khadi became a political tool of the Independence movement. The Fabric of India displays a selection of contemporary clothing using Khadi, showing that its symbolism remains relevant to this day.
Since the 1950s, revival initiatives have attempted to protect the cultural place of handmade textiles by reintegrating them into the economy. Elaborate wedding attire and film costumes have popularized traditional embellishment techniques and on display will be a magnificent wedding outfit by Sabyasachi Mukherjee, one of India’s most important designers. Today innovative approaches to historic hand-making techniques are evident from high-end fashion runways to gallery walls. The continued global impact of India’s hand-making skills is highlighted with pieces by international brands Hermes and Isabel Marant. Contemporary Indian textile art is on display to illustrate how traditional natural dyes, embroidery and hand painting techniques are being used to create decorative pieces.
The final section of the exhibition explores India’s dynamic fashion industry and its continuity of India’s textile traditions. Many Indian designers are using handmaking techniques in imaginative ways and innovative designs by Manish Arora, Abraham and Thakore, Rahul Mishra, Rajesh Pratap Singh and Aneeth Arora will be on display. The sari, the traditional dress of India, has been embraced in recent years by contemporary designers as an opportunity to combine innovative design with a uniquely Indian identity. A selection of the most exciting saris being produced today is shown as a vibrant finale to the exhibition.

01._Houndstooth_sari_by_Abraham_and_Thakore_double_ikat_silk_Hyderabad_2011._Photograph_courtesy_of_Abraham__Thakore

For more details on how to attend click here :

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