45. Textile Technology Of India

Since time immemorial, Indians had the knowledge of growing cotton, weaving it into clothes and tailoring them into dress material.

Greek Historian "Herodatus", (400 BC), Indians are exporting cotton to China, Greece, Egypt, Rome and Arabian countries with an expensive price tag.

If a commoner in India wore a cotton cloth, the richest of the western countries wore the same Indian cotton cloth as a luxury item.

Cotton is one of the major attractions that made European throng to India.

Vedas mention about the cotton weaving and cotton growing. Vedas refer to a seer called "Grusthayudha", who had grown cotton plants and made the cotton thread from them. The seer had obtained 10 measures of cotton from that plant.

Indians had the skill of weaving a wrapper thin cloth that could be packed in a small matchbox sized golden box. A French traveler called Tavernier (17th century) had recorded the above fact in his writings.

American historian Will Durant says in his famous book - The Story of civilization or oriental heritage: "Textiles were woven with an artistry never since excelled; from the days of Caesar to our own the fabrics of India have been prized by all the world. From homespun khaddar to complex brocades flaming with gold, from picturesque pyjamas to the invisibly-seamed shawls of Kashmir, every garment woven in India has a beauty that comes only of a very ancient, and now almost instinctive art." (Source: Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage - By Will Durant MJF Books. 1935 p.585).

A famous historian "Andre Dubus" had said, "at the beginning of 17th century India was a very big commercial centre for textile trade".

During the sixteenth century for the first time in world, dyed cotton fabrics were exported. These dyed fabrics had created huge demand in European markets. The craze towards Indian clothes was very high among European women. They had even resisted the ban imposed by various European Governments on Indian textiles.

In the year 1658, Hollanders attempted to make dyed clothes imitating Indian dyes. These fabrics resulted in unnatural colours and unbearable smell; and so they remained as unwearable grotesque. It took seventy years for them to attain a level of refinement in dyeing technology.

In certain European libraries, we find many manuscripts of letters written between 1742&1747. These letters speak about the greatness of Indian textile talents (Ref: Decolonizing History, technology and cultures in India, China and the west from 1492 to present day - Clande Alvares p55-67)

Till 1850, India remained an undisputable queen in textile business. With the advent of industrial revolution, British began producing the machine made cloth and simultaneously created many black laws against Indian hand made textiles.

Many of the Indian weavers were thrown out of jobs. Many traders in Indian textiles became insolvent in their trade due to economic sanctions imposed by the British.

Inspite of hurdles created by the British laws and heavy competition from machine made textiles, Indian textiles created their own brand image and survived bad times.

Today, India has become the largest producer & exporter of textiles and dress material. The best, the cheapest and the costliest fabrics of the world are available in India today.


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