Trade cloths

The long and glorious tradition of Indian textiles made India famous across the globe. Cotton textiles were India’s contribution to the world and with their colour-fast dyes and unrivaled quality considered precious cargo. From the earliest times, the Romans lamented the loss of foreign exchange on account of the Indian textile trade. In Southeast Asia, the appetite for Indian cloth was insatiable; they were regarded as a form of status and wealth, revered in festivities or life-cycle ceremonies, and prized as family heirlooms. Europe too experienced a craze for Indian chintz, in the form of furnishings and costumes.

Neither climate nor custom helped preserve these cloths in India. As a result, our rich textile heritage has been gleaned from rare examples such as these that survived on distant shores.