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Indian Painting forms and its footprint on global fabric design

The culture of India has always fascinated the world and has been a brilliant identifier and advertiser for India’s intellect & inclination towards art. Ranging from peppers and spices to khadi and Ayurveda, our heritage is indeed a gift to the world. India was ruled by numerous kingdoms, dynasties. All of this left an indelible mark on our culture in a way that has etched its mark on the walls of human lifestyle and culture. Bringing this into the world of fashion, It is no secret that our designs and attire are loved and sold at exorbitant prices around the world. 


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Indeed, we see Indian prints and patterns on aesthetic outfits at shops, online thrift stores, and even on abstract art. Be it summer clothes, formal attire, vintage outfit, monochrome outfits, dresses with short sleeves, Indian painting print patterns have never been out of style. Not only in fashion, but textile art has also indeed dominated places far from fashion like watercolor painting, website design, logo making, free logo design, landscape painting, and graphic design. In architecture also we come across these print patterns in-ceiling designs for bedrooms, Indian paintings hung on the walls or decorated on carpets or in the vases that we use.

Only in India do you see the connection of historic art to our daily life. Textile art has survived wars, famines, and colonialism to reach us in its whole form. Some of the Indian paintings have left their footprints in fashion’s print work and textile art.

The art of Parsi embroidery originated in Iran but has become influenced by Persian, European, Indian, and Chinese cultures. Usually found in the Parsi Gara sarees, this artwork is so rich and embellished that it takes about 9 months to complete a single piece. But in today’s world of fast fashion, mass-produced garments and cheap materials are threatening this historic art.

Bandhani, the oldest form of tie & die art, involves dying a fabric while it is tightly tied with a thread in several places. Its origins can be traced back to about 5,000 years ago in the Ajanta caves of Gujarat. The Khatri community were the pioneers of this form.  Creating interesting patterns of either dots, stripes, waves, or squares, these threads function as barriers and do not stain or affect the untied parts. 

The ancient art form of kalamkari involves dying, bleaching, hand painting, block printing, starching, cleaning, and more tedious steps before the final product is completed. The process begins with a tamarind pen and natural dyes and involves 23 tedious steps. Awe-inspiring prints imitate the episodes and stories created by musicians, artists, and storytellers in India’s divine kingdoms. Kalamkari is primarily embellished with sarees made from handloom fabric. Its main components are flowers, peacocks and paisleys, and characters from Hindu epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana.

Chandi Ki Chhapai, or Varak painting, is an ornamental way of embellishing clothes or textiles by flattening gold or silver into a paper-like consistency. These days, Varak work is usually seen on sarees and dupattas made by Indian craftsmen of the highest quality. This work is indeed an indicator of the powerful and wealthy times that India has passed through. 

There is the notion that fashion is superior when it is foreign. Foreign dresses and clothes have had a large market in India catering to the public. Fashion is in no way more elite if it is foreign. Our traditional prints from paintings have found their way into the folds of fashion. And it is something to be proud of and celebrated. 

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