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Indian Textile: A Celebration of Art and Diversity

One of the defining factors of India is the plethora of cultures and its manifestations in tangible products like art, architecture, festivals, and textiles among other things. The diversity exhibited in various regions of the country are seen as an extension in the textile they produce. Ranging from woven fabric that is a riot of colours and accompanied by intricate patterns to subtly coloured ones with minimal patterns, the textile of this country is exquisite and is admired by art lovers and fashion icons across the world. Following is a compilation of some of the textiles of India that are produced exclusively in certain parts of the country but are admired throughout the country:

1. Bagru – Having its roots in the Bagru district in Rajasthan, this textile is printed with handmade and carved blocks before being painted in natural dyes. This indigenous form of printing follows a detailed process which begins with preparing the light-coloured cloth and the finished product is a printed and dyed fabric with vibrant shades of indigo, yellow, red, and black. The motifs alternate between floral and geometric adding a simple yet elegant

charm to the fabric.

Image source: Google

2. Kantha – West Bengal is home to the Kantha fabric, and the loose translation of the name means rags. This fabric is made by stacking and stitching old sarees together by hand. Since the source of the material for Kantha fabric comes from old sarees, common colours such as blue, yellow, red, and green are seen often. The motifs on this fabric is inspired by local folklore and are a celebration of natural elements like trees, flowers, and celestial bodies.

Image source: Google

3. Ajrajkh – Originally from Sindh in present day Pakistan, Ajrakh is now popular in various districts of Gujarat. Considered to be one of the oldest methods of block printing, the Ajrakh fabric is embellished with vibrant colours like crimson red, indigo, yellow, and orange. The motifs on this fabric are elaborate and are mostly natural elements in the form of leaves, stars, and flowers. Trefoils (merging of three sun disks) is another common motif that is found in this textile and is considered to be unity between the gods of water, sun, and water.

Image source: Google

4. Lepcha – Woven by the Lepcha tribe in Sikkim, this textile is made with cotton as the base and the motifs are created later with woollen yarn. In the ancient times, the tribe depended on natural fibres like nettle to make this fabric but eventually moved on to wool and cotton. The elegance of Lepcha fabric lies in its minimalist stripes and geometric patterns that come in shades of white, black, red, yellow, and green.

Image source: Google

5. Kinnauri – Found in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, this textile is known for its expert weaving and dyeing. Red is the most predominant colour on this fabric while shades of blue, yellow, white, and green are used occasionally. These five colours are said to be a representation of the five elements according to Buddhist mythology and are complemented by religious symbols like nightingale’s eyes, keys, a flock of birds, stripes among other things.

Image source: Google

6. Pashmina – This textile is synonymous with the art and craft produced in Kashmir and is coveted by people across the world. It is suggested that the name is derived from the Persian word ‘pash’ which means ‘wool’. The fibre of this fabric is derived from Changthangi goats which are unique to Nepal and other high altitudinous states in India. Pashmina comes in a wide range of metallic shades which are either plain, have minimal patterns or intricate floral and geometrical motifs.

Image Source: Google

7. Ikat – Originating from Hyderabad, this textile are produced when bundles of yarn are wrapped tightly together and to produce the desired pattern and dyed eventually. This process is continued until there is a sense of elaborateness in textile. Available in numerous colours, this fabric is popular across the world including countries like Japan (known as ‘kasuri’), Latin American and African countries.

Image source: Google

8. Kalamkari – Once a means of livelihood for weavers in Andhra Pradesh and now a fabric that is owned by almost everyone in the country, Kalamkari needs no introduction. Kalamkari is derived from two Persian words – ‘kalam’ referring to ‘pen’ and ‘kari’ which means ‘craft’. Often seen in rich and vibrant shades, the designs hand painted on this fabric range from peacocks and paisleys to animals in meadows and characters from Hindu mythology.

Image source: Google

9. Kunbi – Woven and worn by the Kunbi tribe in Goa, this fabric has gained international attention owing to its simplicity and minimalist elegance. Kunbi textile comes in various shades of red and black which are complemented by a combination of large and small white checkers. Kunbi sarees were earlier worn by tribal women as it helped in uninterrupted movement and helped them work on the fields without any hassle.

Image source: Google

10. Kasavu – Originating from Kerala, the Kasavu fabric is the epitome of elegance. This fabric is a handwoven ivory coloured textile with a shimmering gold border that is considered extremely auspicious by the people of the state and are worn by men and women. Kasavu fabric has minimal patterns and do not come in any other shades but is still popular within the state and across the country because of its elegance and its weaving craftsmanship.

Image source: Google

The wide range of fabrics mentioned above is testament to the innumerable cultures of India. When a weaver sits down to weave a textile manually, it is not just the yarn or the wool that is woven but exquisite craftsmanship that has been passed down for many generations, centuries of history and the particular region’s distinct culture. The weaver’s efforts result in the creation of a textile that goes beyond its physicality and stands as a testament to the union of the art and plurality of Indian culture.

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