Travels in Textiles


Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Evolution and Influence in Indian block printed designs

An image of a fragment of fabric printed in Gujarat for the Egyptian Market. Excavated at Fostat (old Cairo), dated to the 14th Century AD.

An image taken from the book Trade, Temple and Court, Indian Textiles from the Tapi Collection Ruth Barnes, Steven Cohen and Rosemary Crill, Gujarat Late 13th/early 14th century, traded to Sulawesi, eastern Indonesia, cotton, resist print and mordant - dyed.

My own picture taken during my recent trip to Ajrakhpur. This is a sample book of the different stages in the ajrakh print process. It is the work of Dr. Ismail Khatri, influenced by the above ancient pieces, said to have been of the same the same tradition as ajrakh, printed by Ismail's ancestors.
According to the authors of Trade, Temple and Court, the motif in the above images was named daun bolu - 'leaf of the sirih plant', the piper beetle that is an essential ingredient in chewing beetle by the Toraja community in Sulawesi.

This is another early textile find from Fostat. The image is from Ruth Barnes' Indian Block Printed Cotton Fragments in the Kelsey Museum, The University of Michigan. Like the above image it will have been resist dyed and again for the Egyptian market. The red would have been achieved using madder dyeThis image is another taken from the Tapi Collection book and is again from Gujarat, traded to Sulawesi, eastern Indonesia from the 17th/18th century. The teardrop like motifs in these two images bear resmeblance. This motif is still used regularly today. Although from my experinece more in Rajasthan than Gujarat. This motif is popular amongst Anokhi designs. A contemporary version a Tapi booti of the pattern is shown here printed on tussar silk and made into a book.

Another Fostat print from the 14th century on the left and on the right a similar print from Ismail Khatri's workshop, January 2010. Again this is a sample book of the print process stages.

I find it fascinating seeing patterns in cloths hundreds of years old still being used today. I wonder whether they have the same meanings and names given to them now as they did then. Also how would the translations of the patterns and uses of the cloths by the Toraja of Indonesia differed from the Egyptians, and the Gujaratis themselves.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

A long cold winter

This picture of amazing icicles was taken on the snake pass on my journey from Manchester to Sheffield. There wasn't any snow or hardly any ice, but this area missing the sun's gaze had kept its cold and the trees clung onto its beautiful sculptures. Quite a surreal sight on my first day back from India, being so completely contrasting to the sights I'd seen in the past few weeks!

Yet another scattering of snow a few weeks later brought about many a pretty view on a country walk in Cheshire.