Textiles of India 2

Human hand is an amazing tool that can turn a feeling into something material in the blink of an eye. As human beings, we have always used our hands to create by bringing together different elements of living, our own heads and hearts, the lives of those before us, what we treasure and seek to cultivate, as well as the spark of passion. India is a country that has long valued the role of human hands in shaping day-to-day life. Traveling north to south across India, we focused on the hand as a tool of wonder, learning from cultures built on handcraftsmanship.

Working by hand is a natural part of every village and town that we visited - an integral part of daily life here. Each hand-created object is subtly different from the next, imitating the natural world, where each creature is unique. These differences are the inevitable and natural outcome of handcraftsmanship. Contemplate the handmade, and you witness the personality of the individual who created it.


Block Printing

Block printing is a technique that utilises combinations of wood blocks to build patterns for fabric. Most Indian block print textiles involve more than 10 different wood blocks. The motifs are inspired by plants, flowers, animals and other elements of the natural world, which is such an integral part of life in India. These patterns come to life through the balance of the print and borders. The slightest change in the use and balance of colour can completely change the character and tone of the fabric pattern.


The state of Gujarat is renowned for its elaborate embroidery and other fine handcrafts. Local applique is similar to the techniques used in embroidery. The craftspeople create patterns by cutting away pieces of fabric and stitching the cut edges. This is work that requires a great deal of patience. It was traditionally passed down from mother to child, but this is no longer the case. Today, there are groups who are working to protect this special mother-child bond and preserve these fine crafting techniques. They help local women find the time to keep this tradition alive.

Handwoven Fine Yarn Throw

Fabrics can only begin to be woven after setting up the yarn. This preparation actually takes up more time than the weaving process itself, making it a very important step. The hundreds of warp strands are threaded through the heddles one by one before passing through the reed. Therefore the finer the yarn is, the more time it takes for both the preparation and the weaving. The result is soft and airy, and only made possible by the delicate touch of the human hand.

Handwoven Rugs

Rugs require thicker warp thread than other textiles, and these warp threads are hand-wound onto bobbins. For high-speed looms, the warp is typically wound by machine, but for handwoven rugs, weavers use large waterwheel-like gears to measure the length of warp wound onto each bobbin by hand. Keeping threads untangled on the bobbin is important, to prevent errors when the loom is threaded. This is a seemingly simple task that requires a great deal of careful precision.

Braid Machine Work

Numerous fibres are braided into rope that is cut, put together and sewn side by side to create a thick cloth material. Depending on how they are sewn together, the same length of rope can be used to create entirely different items. Craftspeople use this technique to create anything and everything they can imagine.

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