All posts by Shirin Caldwell

From Gujarat to West Bengal

with Shirin Caldwell

A story of the Revival of the Traditional Textiles of India after the “Inglorious Empire” of the British Raj.

From Gujarat to West Bengal
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Shirin Caldwell © 21st February 2021

This talk is an introduction to one story (there are many) of how the ancient arts of weaving and embroidery are being revived amongst the artisans of Gujarat and West Bengal in India. The story is told through my eyes, which were opened on a Traditional Textiles tour to India in 2019.

I joined Joji’s Jacob’s Traditional Textiles of India Tour in October 2019. It was dazzling!

India: drenched in colour, the vibrancy of the people, the fascinating accommodation including the 19th century Itachuna Rajbari in West Bengal, or the luxurious Taj Mahal hotel in Lucknow the Terracotta Temples, the idol makers workshops in Kolkata, the stunning traditional weaving and embroideries, the breath-taking ancient step wells whose stories are carved into the stone walls and pillars. And…the Chambal River ride alive with crocodiles and gharials. All of these will linger long in my memory.

But today, I want to talk about one of the major reasons for my choosing this tour over the many others, that was the social justice emphasis on supporting the revival of the ancient weaving and embroidery arts by the artisans of India, that were almost lost due the deliberate, brutal repressive policies of the British East India Company and later the British Raj.

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