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Introduction to Textile tradition of India

The textile tradition in India has been conditioned by a number of factors, like geography, climate, local culture, social customs, availability of raw material etc. A variety of raw material like silk, cotton, wool, jute etc is used in India for creating fabric. The geo-climatic and bio diversity of India has given birth to a myriad of textiles and weaving throughout India. Local, foreign markets and export potential dictate the traditional textile scenario of today.The hilly and alpine region of the country has a rich array of woolen textiles. The world famous pashmina and shahtoosh shawls of Kashmir are fine examples of the woolen textile of our country, so are the shawls and garments from Himachal Pradesh and the North Eastern states.

Shawls from these regions are also popular abroad. The textiles from the arid and semi arid regions are bright and have rich embroidery on them. The people in the coastal areas of the south and eastern regions prefer garments made of white fabrics. Cotton and silk textiles are popular in these areas. Utilitarian items such as cushions, bed sheets, covers, table mats, napkins, curtains etc are produced throughout the country. Each state has its own unique contribution in making these utilitarian items.

Major Traditions & Style

Silk and cotton weaving predominate the weaving traditions in India. Silk weaving is common in most parts of the country, important centers being Mysore, Assam, Banaras, Murshidabad, Surat, Kanchipuram and Paithan etc. There are numerous centers, which specialize in silk and cotton sari weaving. Some of the sari traditions which are popular are-Banarsi brocades, Maheshwari, Pochampalli, Kancheevaram, Patola, Paithani, Baluchari etc to name a few. The famous himroo and mushroo fabrics of Hyderabad are splendid examples of mixed fabric (cotton and silk).

The mulberry silk which is largely produced in Assam is also a rare variety of silk used for making saree and traditional dress material. It's a traditional custom to wear mulberry silk outfit in the new year festival of Assam called bihu. This is a yellowish and brown colored delicate material produced from the mulberry silk cocoon which survives on mulberry tree leaves.

The tradition of Appliqué and embroidery is well known to Indians since ancient times. Punjab is famous for its Phulkari work, which is a rich form of Appliqué. Appliqué work from Kutchh region of Gujarat is also very ornate and is done on bright fabrics. It is also famous amongst the tribals of Orissa, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. The city of Lucknow is world famous for its Chikan style of embroidery, so is the crewelwork from Kashmir. Gujarat, Punjab, Karnataka, Rajasthan and West Bengal all have their distinct styles of embroidery.

Tie and dye, hand printing and block printing are common across the country and come in numerous styles, influenced by local factors. The Tie and dye technique of printing in particular is popular in the arid and semi arid regions of the country where people prefer brightly coloured clothes. The states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh are main centers for block printing.

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