|The second most populated
country in the world, and tenth most industrialized, India is composed of
diverse geographical regions surrounded by oceans on two sides and the Himalayas
in the north. The spinning wheel, long the centre of the Indian flag acknowledges
that textiles are a living Indian art form still vital to the culture and
industry of India. An Indian story tells of the Mother Goddess and her cosmic
spider that began a web of cotton, the web grew to cover India, reaching
beyond the borders to the Himalayas, eventually, binding an Aryan god of
machines. This myth is an uncanny foretelling of the coming of Europeans
and machines. Bandanas, chintz, muslin, calico, were all Indian words and
techniques. The wealth flowing from trade in Indian textiles turned a British
trading coming into the greatest empire on earth. This wealth imported those
gods of progress. The machines of the Industrial Revolution, into India.
Among the traditional crafts, textiles remain the most varied expressing
diverse ethnicity, evoking the images, colours and cultures of India.
Today, over eighteen million Indians feed themselves from the profits of their handlooms. Like the spinning goddess, Indian weavers have been the mother to Indian industry, the wife to Indian nationalism. In home based industries as well a large factories, contemporary dyes are used in combination with natural dyes by today’s textile craftspeople and designers continue to reflect the colours of India.