In the great books of India, an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, constant, the voice of an old intelligence, which in another age and climate, had pondered and thus disposed of the questions that exercise us. Ralph Waldo Emerson
With a textile history dating back millennia, it’s impressive and inspiring to see the industry in India still going strong. A glorious tradition of artisans producing textiles by hand continues right up to the present day and each region still specialises in its own fabric, influenced by geography, climate and culture.
Until at least the 18th century, India was using far more advanced techniques than the European textile industry, employing the likes of ‘mordant dyeing’ (using intense colours that do not easily fade) from the second millennium BC.
Babur, the first Mughal emperor of India, championed the nation’s now ubiquitous floral motif during his reign from 1526-30. A great nature enthusiast, he commissioned many resplendent gardens and inspired later generations to incorporate sacred flowers into art, eventually spreading into commercial use at the height of the textile trade in the 18th and 19th centuries.