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Dorota Wielkosielec/PL: „Wings“ series, 2011, diptych, batik (see page 39)
Below: Vlisco exhibition (see pages 34-37) Lucy and Jorge Orta: Nexus suits made of wax print fabrics at the Arnheim Museum of Modern Art (MMKA) Video presentation at the MMKA
Although this i s the second magazine issue devoted to resist dyeing techniques, we still feel that we have not yet done justice to our subject matter – whether in terms of its global distribution, the history of its cultural development or its impact and effects on the textile industry.
Our review of “Chintz, Indian Textiles for the West”, a publication announced in the previous issue, was one instance where we were faced with so many questions that we would have wished to publish a third magazine issue on the theme. It is well known that the ‘chintz craze’ gave rise to a number of developments in Europe from the 18th to the 20th centuries, and that we owe it the emergence of a highly advanced textile printing industry.
On the other hand, our editors began to wonder whether chintz, batik and indigo printing actually differ at all in technical terms as they all seem to belong to the same branch of dyeing. We are indebted to Maria Friend for coming to our aid a second time and throwing light on that subject (see p. 20/21).
Lastly, we contemplated the idea that there may have been a particular cultural development in Asia that gave rise to the emergence of highly complex resist dyeing techniques. When examining Indian chintzes, to mention an example, we were soon confronted by a mass of history that is little known in Europe.
How many Europeans are aware of the fact that archaeological evidence suggests the existence of a highly advanced civilisation in South East India around 1,200 BC? Around the time of Christ’s birth, during the reign of the Emperor Augustus in Rome, the early Pandya kings kept Roman soldiers as personal guards, and f inds of coins document the existence of a Roman trading station in the region. Between the 9th and 13th centuries, prior to the arrival of the Portuguese in the wake of Vasco da Gama, the most powerful Hindu empire developed in South East India. The influence of its merchant guilds extended from the Fatimid Empire in North Africa all the way to China, encompassing large parts of South East Asia. From 1526 to 1858 – the period of the European East India Companies – the Mughal dynasty ruled India, developing an extraordinarily rich culture and a constitution that was considered enlightened and modern at the time (for instance, India abolished the slave trade with East Africa in the early 16th century!). The most important export products of the Mughal Empire were textiles sold to Europe, South East Asia, Japan and East Africa, as were dyes such as indigo.
In the light of this historic complexity, we are confined to offering selective insights into narrowly def ined aspects of this wide f ield, hoping that we will inspire or intensify our readers’ interest and motivate them to pursue the subject on their own.
We refer Textile Forum readers to the article by British scholar Eiluned Edwards, who wrote in TF 3/2003 page 36/37 on the Indian caste of the Khatri, fabric printers and dyers inhabiting the border area between Pakistan and the North West Indian regions of Gujarat and Rajasthan: “The practice of dyeing cloth with vegetable and mineral colours that are permanently fixed with mordants goes back over four thousand years on the Indian sub-continent”, she remarked in her highly readable contribution. At this point we would like to draw our readers’ attention to two not-to-be-missed events scheduled this year:
The Textile Centre of Haslach, Upper Austria, will open its doors on 6th July. Featured in our magazine on several occasions, the concept is now approaching its destined completion (see p. 4/5).
From 1st to 15th October, the f irst “Contextile 2012” triennial of textile art will be held in Guimarães, Portugal, with an accompanying conference scheduled for 2nd and 3rd October – a remarkably spirited initiative in a European Union country that is currently struggling with major economic problems (see p. 12).
Beatrijs Sterk & Dietmar Laue
Bold f lower design from the Einbeck hand-printing workshop (see page 30/31)