BOOK: World Textiles: A Concise History (World of Art)

Mary Schoeser  

(page 7) (introduction)
"It can be argued that as indicators  of cultural mechanisms, textiles offer insights into the greatest range of developments, embracing not only technology, agriculture and trade, but also ritual, tribute, language, art and personal identity."

(page 134)
"All constructed textiles share one feature: their design derives from the direct manipulation of threads, whether dyed or undyed, woven, knotted or individually wrapped, twisted, plaited or embroidered in place. Painting, pattern dyeing and printing begin from a different perspective. Their fundamental impact is visual rather than structural: they are a response to the medium rather than the basis of it. The nature of the colourant and the method of its delivery to selected areas of cloth are equal partners in the process."

"Like tritik, batik and ikat are terms taken from Indonesia where the patterning of cloths became a primary domestic industry. Until the early 1900s, cloths decorated using these techniques were widely traded by the ruling 'West India Company' (1602-1798). These and other Indian, Indonesian and Japanese words for pattern dyeing - including the Indian 'chitta',  which became 'chintz' - indicate influential areas of production."

(page 140)
"When imported Indian painted and printed cottons began to stimulate imitations in Europe in the 17th Century, the French and, later, English governments responded by banning printing in order to protect the weavers. However, these bans were circumvented in a number of ways. French painters, whose ban from 1686 to 1759 was the longest, argued successfully that patterns with resisted indigo were not painted but dyed.

(page 144)
"Indian prints became important trade goods, sold not only to Egypt but also to Asia and the Far East, particularly  southern Asia. They soon began to be tailored to specific markets. During the 1600s, for example, those made to export to Europe gradually gave greater prominence to light grounds (the European preference), a taste transferred back to India and central Asia, where India-type block-printing is judged to have began in the following century."

(page 155)
"... the understanding of old patterning underpinned the impact of rotary printing machines, which, by about 1828 (in Lancashire, England) could print three colours simultaneously. Together, these developments consolidated the British domination of cotton printing in the global market until about 1900."

(page 156)
"Until about 1950, plant fibres were always the mainstay of textile production."

"By the mid 19th century, western machine-made cotton yarns and cloths were distributed globally alongside specialist hand-printed goods, often eliminating local production in the process."

(page 164)
"Cotton was thus caught up in the search for white or near white cloths. Although the pure white cotton ball is now emblematic of this crop, many varieties produced coloured lints. Bleach was therefore equally time consuming."

"Well charted sea routes, pioneered largely by the Portuguese, greatly increased the availability of bleaching materials, as well as of dyes and cotton itself. The marriage in 1662 of Charles II of England to the Portuguese infanta, Catherine of Bragança, had profound consequences for the British textile manufacture. Her immense dowry included the ceding of Portuguese trading rights in the east India, Bombay, Tangiers and Brazil. Soon, English well made cotton cloths were made with yarns from the latter and the Caribbean Islands. Both remained significant sources of cotton throughout the 18th century.  

"Despite innovations elsewhere, until about 1820 the Indian subcontinent remained the world's greatest producer of luxury finished cotton textiles, distributed by their traders as well as by the Dutch, Portuguese and specially after the 1600, the British."

(page 194)
"textiles are determined by a particular selection from the never-ending possibilities offered by fibres, colours, constructions and patterns; on the other hand, their reception is tempered by every persons intimate - and often unconscious - knowledge of their textures, sounds, smells and appearance. The contradiction occur when this intuitive understanding (which generally overlooks the complexity of textiles) is confronted  by a form or image that prompts a reconsideration of these assumptions. When only the richest wore and owned bright, intricately figured textiles, they easily commanded awe and projected prestige."

(page 203/204)
"... as the 1860s fascination with all things Japanese melded with the relatively recent taste for ottoman patterns and the established use of Indian designs. Arts and Crafts textiles were heavily dependent on those sources."

(page 204)
"Meanwhile, museums had repositioned textiles as "pictures" by presenting them as static, flat, non-textural objects, often framed". 

(page 205)
"Collecting by private individuals and museum had by the 1920s substantially altered attitudes towards textiles in both academic and practical terms, by exposing the west to other cultures, past and present, native and foreign."

(page 209)
"... the 20th century narratives of non-western textiles are in many cases legacies, subverting capitalist and even older tribute systems to sustain good lives by reasserting the relevance of textiles as a medium of employment, identity and parody."


  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson; illustrated edition edition (9 Jun 2003)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0500203695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500203699

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