Introduction to Indian textiles
Textiles have a long and distinguished history in the Indian sub-continent. The technique of mordant dyeing, which gives intense colours that do not fade, has been used by Indian textile workers since the second millennium BC. Until at least the 18th century, India was able to produce technically much more advanced textiles than Europe could.
Consuming South Asian textiles
Indian textiles were valued for a variety of reasons in 19th-century Britain. They were prized as symbolic trophies of Britain's empire in India and examples of its material resources, and were also admired as models of good design and inspiration for both manufacturers and consumers.
Circulating South Asian textiles
While recent histories have emphasised the role of imperial authority in shaping the V&A's South Asian collections, the Museum's original objective was the general improvement of taste, part of what Henry Cole saw as the task of civilising the modern age, a 'great and sacred mission'.
Indian textiles & Empire: John Forbes Watson
John Forbes Watson's (1827-1892) idea for 'portable industrial museums', led to the publication of The Collections of the Textile Manufactures of India in 1866, eighteen volumes of mounted and classified samples of Indian textiles containing seven hundred examples in all.
Indian textiles & Empire: Owen Jones
The 1852 Great Exhibition, held in London's Hyde Park, was the first of a series of international exhibitions to be held in major world cities. It provided the British public's first major exposure to artefacts and natural products from the Indian subcontinent, which formed part of the colonial displays.