Jute in the crown: V&A explores fabric of India’s historic garment trade

The exhibition focuses on the historical and ongoing importance of textile to the economy of India. It traces the origins of India’s natural plant fibres and dyes, through to its place as the world’s largest exporter of fabrics across the globe, trading with China, Africa and the Middle East long before Vasco da Gama claimed the seat route from Europe. Unseen treasures sit alongside everyday objects. Apart from its luxury silks and fine cottons, India’s fabric industry also gave to Britain the words calico, dungarees, gingham, khaki, pyjamas, shawl and sash. Chinz being related to a sanskrit word meaning coloured or spotted. “Fabric was also very tied up with the resistance movement. It was a key symbol of power and protest,” says co-curator Divia Patel

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