The Fabric of India, part of the V&A’s India Festival is currently on at the Victoria & Albert Museum in Kensington.
Over 200 objects are on display at The Fabric of India at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the first exhibition to explore the rich world of handmade Indian textiles. The history of fabric in India is one of the most ancient in the world with the oldest surviving cotton threads dating from around 4000 BC.
On display are examples of everyday fabrics as well as previously unseen treasures from ancient banners to contemporary saris. The exhibition offers an introduction to the raw materials and processes of making cloth by hand with displays of basic fibres of silk, cotton and wool. It shows how fabrics were used in courtly and spiritual life covering the range, opulence, scale, and splendour of objects handmade for the rich and powerful courts of the 17th to 19th centuries.
The changing world is examined too as European industrialisation threatened to eradicate Indian handmaking skills in the 19th century. A range of pieces designed for foreign export showcase the ability of Indian artisans to adapt designs and techniques for a wide variety of markets. Different regions developed specialities based on local resources such as natural dyes, and printing patterns with wooden blocks. A film shows how it is done. Each part of India has its own weaving tradition, and embroidery with regional styles. The exhibition examines how fabrics were used in courtly and spiritual life with an area where haunting music is played showcases articles, including a sultan’s tent, that was saved from the Indian royal courts.
Textiles are also shown when modernisation became a priority after Indian gained its independence in 1947. A range of pieces for foreign export showcases the ability of Indian artisans to adapt designs and techniques for a wide variety of different markets, and highlights how their designers rework traditional techniques into extravagant clothes.
The India Festival includes
Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection which opens on 21 November and runs until 28 March 2016 while Musical Wonders of India in the Nehru Gallery runs until 3 July 2016.
On 8 December, Michael Palin is giving a talk on his visits to India.
The exhibition runs until 10 January, 2016.
Tickets £14. Open daily from 10.00 – 17.45 (Friday 22.00)