Inside some Indian workshops

I went to India in order to try and understand a little, if I could, something of the cultures which produce the ornament on the South Asian clothing I see in London, and which add to the many existing strands in the cityâ??s visual patterning.

I wanted also to see how the textiles are produced. This post shows some image sequences from two workshops, in towns geographically far apart. One is a block printing workshop in Ahmadabad producing bulk orders.

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Yellow dystuff in tubWhite fabric on rollersDSCN0976

Woodblocks for textile block printingMan block printingDetail of hand blockprinting

Rolls of blockprinted fabric drying in the sunSample of blockprinted pattern

The second set is some images from Varanasi (Benares) famous for its gold and silver thread saris which are woven on jacquard looms which are often of great age. These saris are extremely costly.

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Making punchcards for the jacquard loom  Weavers using a jacquard loom  Gold and silver threads 

Sample of jacquard weaving

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Jacquard loom weaving dates from the early 19th century in Europe. It involves passing threads through a sequence of punched cards to create the patterns, so lies between hand and machine production. Many South Asian brides in Europe order these saris for their wedding trousseaux.

My journey has been an endless source of reflection since I returned from India. Gathering visual material is not the hard part of this project. Understanding my own overwhelmed response, and then trying to see where the experience might â??resideâ?? â?? thatâ??s harder.

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