Western India’s cotton-growing and -dyeing technologies traced to Indus Valley civilization – Western region

The western region consists of the desert states of Gujarat and Rajasthan as well as Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and western Madhya Pradesh. […]

The region is home to a wide variety of people with different religions and cultures, most of whom have distinctive traditional textiles. They include Jains, Parsis, Hindus and Muslims, as well as tribal groups such as the Bhils and Mina. Yet the dominant characteristic of the traditional saris and odhnis of all these communities, as with all western Indian fabrics, is colour. For textile variation in the western region is determined by dyeing rather than weaving techniques, and the three major forms of Indian resist-dyeing evolved here. These are block-printing, tie-dye, and ikat, which culminates in the complex multicoloured patola. […]

This region’s propensity toward colour has deep roots, for it is here that the Indus Valley civilization developed cotton-growing and -dyeing technologies. From at least the early second millennium AD, western India has traded dyed textiles to the Middle East, South-East Asia and the Far East, and later to Europe and the Americas, although most local communities maintained their own textile designs. These usually had Mughal-style or geometric patterns, unlike those created in export cloths. Today, however, modern saris are often created using the resist-dyed saudagiri (trade cloth) prints once made solely for the foreign market.sari_lynton1995_fig29-31_web

Source: Lynton, Linda. The Sari: Styles, Patterns, History, Techniques. London: Thames and Hudson, 1995, p. 25.

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

Fig. 29-31, Photos: Sanjay K. Singh *

* Fig. 29 Above The fact that the traditional designs of many Bhil saris are in the Mughal style shows how well entrenched the Mughal aesthetic is in the western region. Elsewhere in India, most tribal and ethnic saris do not carry this type of pattern. Ahmedabad, Gujarat, 1954.

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[C]aste Hindu society in India is so convinced of its own superiority that it never stops to consider the nature of social organisation among tribal people. In fact it is one of the signs of the ‘educated’ barbarian of today that he cannot appreciate the qualities of people in any way different from himself – in looks or clothes, customs or rituals.

“Hands off tribal culture” (Commentary), India Today, 9 January 2014
URL: https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/guest-column/story/19800915-hands-off-tribal-culture-821415-2014-01-09
Date Accessed: 27 July 2021

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