Report on Traditional Fabric-Making in India
by SEKIMOTO Teruo
Survey Participants: ABE Katsuhiko, KANETANI Miwa, SEKIMOTO Teruo, FUKASAWA Katsumi, YANAGI Munemoto
Location of Survey: Mumbai, India and various parts of Gujarat, India
Survey Period: March 11-23, 2000
3.11---------- Tokyo to Mumbai
3.12--------- Toured Mumbai.
Visited Hindu cave temple on Elephanta Island
Visited the Prince of Wales Museum.
Visited Kanheri cave temple.
Examined ethnic pictures in Warli village.
3.14--------- Toured Surat.
Toured former city areas.
Visited Jain temple and Zoroastrian facilities.
Examined a factory processing diamonds for manufacturing gold and silver threads.
Visited a former Dutch fort.
Visited former port areas.
3.15--------- Surat to Ahmadabad
Visited Shreyas Museum.
3.16--------- Toured Ahmadabad.
Visited Jama mosque, Dada Hari Wav 5-tiered well, Calico Museum and Sidi Saiyad mosque.
Examined the manufacture of Kalamkari prints.
Examined patola(double ikat) and mashru weaving in Pathan.
Examined the manufacture of wood blocks used for printing.
Examined a wood block print factory in Dhamadka.
Examined a woolen textile manufacturer in Bejodi, a suburb near Bhuj.
Visited Siva temple in Kera.
Examined felt rug manufacture and batik manufacture in Mundra.
Visited Aina Mahal Palace and the Folk Craft Museumin Bhuj.
Visited Royal Mausoleum in Chatri.
Examined Logan pictures in Nirona.
Examined housing and implements in Ludia.
Examined housing, quilt and mirror work embroidery in Dhordo.
Examined a tye dye factory in Bhuj.
Visited City Craft Art Center in Munbai.
3.22--------- Left Munbai.
3.23--------- Arrived in Tokyo.
Results of the Survey:
Fabrics are important clues when studying history and that of interchange between regions. They have played important roles as tributes, rewards and gifts from ancient years. They indicated hierarchical status and became the fundamental sign for distinguishing the sexes, classes, and races. They were also one of the goods typically traded long distance.
Unit 5, Group a, b and c collaborated to trace the cultural history of fabrics. This being our first research survey, we decided to visit India, which had been the world center of fabric manufacture until the 18th Century. Among many regions, we chose Gujarat as our destination, where a variety of precious and rare fabrics were manufactured and exported to many areas including Europe and Japan. Subsidiary purposes of this survey included: the examination of former port areas in Munbai and Surat, which used to be key trade ports; the examination of temple architecture, which was a strong influence on fabric design; and the survey of local traditional housing and household implements.
Through the rigorous trip around the vast region of Gujarat, we were able to visit many traditional fabric factories. Since our knowledge of Indian fabrics only stemmed from historical resources, we had much to gain when we examined many actual fabrics, their variety of elaborate designs and their manufacturing processes. Particularly in the Kutch region of western India, where many kinds of traditional fabrics were still in daily use, there was a special harmony seen in the housing, household implements, and the natural features. In Pathan, of northern India, we were able to examine the fine manufacturing process of patola (double ikat) fabric, which has been exported to Southeast Asia from ancient times and was highly valued as the choice material for aristocratic ceremonial clothes. We saw its influence on the imitative traditional fabrics manufactured in Southeast Asian areas.