• Tag Archives Arthasastra



                                             TEXTILES OF INDIA IN ANCIENT TIMES


    More ancient than the development of ceramics in the production of utilitarian objects is the activity of production of textiles, early man began to make first hand weaving fibers; even in its rigid form with what made baskets, also attach pieces of skins of animals using needles made of bones of animals in the Paleolithic period to create different items. At the end of the “stone age” accessories using a sort of loom, very primitive indeed were made. They place horizontally a tree branch holding the plot of fibers that were tightened with stones fastened in one of its extreme points, going stringing and weaving to make textiles.

    In the Neolithic period man had at its disposal plants and animals; its new sedentary condition provided and they use the skin of those animals and plants to obtain the raw material for the production of textiles. New tools facilitate the realization of efficient and more complex looms.

    It is known about textiles made in ancient India especially through references made in literature and in the clothing represented in sculptures figures. In Mohenjo-Daro in the Indus Valley around 3000 BC there was a cotton textile industry and endure fragments of this textiles impressed in archaeological excavations items that correspond to this period proving its existence. Unfortunately the humid climates during the monsoon contributed to the deterioration of those fabrics made of organic materials were rotting and alterations of its primary characteristics took place and therefore led to their destruction.

    With the passage of time textiles in India were made adorned with fine flowers and robes embroidered using strands of gold, descriptions of them had been mentioned in writings left by the Greeks that correspond to the time of the campaigns of Alexander the great. Also mentioned in these and subsequent writings are references about the fibers collected from plants; specifically the cotton weaving in India in approximately the year 1750 B.C

     Textiles from ancient India


    A management manual, the Arthasastra that apparently dates from the third century B.C, mentioned “Ordinances” to distribute materials to spinners and weavers. At that time, hardly any of the occupations was open to women. In fact, women who had decided not to marry were banned access to occupations of the majority of jobs. However, it was permitted to weave; the widows and retired prostitutes could practice this profession. In the Arthasastra document were written which were the penalties for fraudulent practices and also the list of taxes to pay for the weavers. Among the listed  textiles were the fabric of white bark of Bengal, the linen of Banaras, cotton coming from the South India and various kinds of blankets, whose texture was described as (soft and slippery).

    In ancient India existed nevertheless differentiation between fabrics made in rural areas for the humble masses and those made in workshops of the State for the royalty and the wealthy. The best workmanship is found in the ritual textiles used to be hangings in temples.




    Survive some ancient written references of the medieval (900­ – 1200 BC) where are mentioned the terms that were used on textiles manufacture , this references contain as well suggestive names of fabrics related to the places where they  were produced, however details on the technique used to made them were scarce.


    In the Muslim period in India that stretched from around 1200 A.D. until 1760; in which the British took over, a succession of sultans who controlled most of the India for a long period, led to the introduction of styles and Oriental techniques in the textile industry who raised the quality and price of textiles produced in this period to be of high quality and high demand. During the period of mandate of Akbar in India textile art reached very high levels of quality, variety and exquisite beauty and flourished in this way until the end of the 17TH century.




    Textiles produced with Persian influence, specifically the Sassanian styles were sumptuous and elegant and characterized by decoration of drawings arranged in rows, or staggered. Designs with round medallions were made with symmetrical motifs arranged around the tree of life as well as fantastic beast and animals with mystic elements of the culture of India represented with colorful drawings and great level of detail in the termination of the fabrics. They have a striking beauty and were coveted by merchants who saw a huge opportunity of enrichment in these textiles. Such is the case of English merchants.


    The company of the East Indies around the year 1600 sent their ships to the India with gold bullion to exchange for fine cotton textiles. The British decided that because the quality of the textiles produced in India was so fine and show so prosper future it will be best to them establish their commercial stations known as “factories”.

     ancient India textiles

    Dyed silk scarves from Bengal were sold in thousands as cloths for use in the neck by the sailors, farm workers and other workers. There are many other Indian words still in use in the English language that come from this period of mass merchandising in the textile sector with India who became the largest exporter of textiles that the world had known, printed Silk cloths, cotton and blends of cotton and silk, scarves, neck scarves and table napkins were sent by thousands to England.

    The English East India Company in the period between of 1670 and 1720 imported on average around 15 million yards of Indian cotton cloth a year. These colorful textiles could resist washing and did not fade with light and that was something very appreciated by merchandisers and customers alike. They were sold as extremely fashionable cloth or ready-made garments with exotic designs. Everything march perfect to this industry until the late seventeenth century in which a series of legal acts proclaimed to protect the European woolen limit and later complete banner the trade, process or consumption of Indian cotton cloth.