Textile Fabrics of India Archive

Scope and Content

In 1866 the Secretary of State for India presented to Huddersfield Mechanics' Institution a set of 18 volumes containing 700 working samples of cotton, silk and woollen textiles obtained from different parts of India. A total of twenty sets of these fabrics were prepared, at considerable cost, with the purpose of exhibiting to English merchants and manufacturers interested in the Indian trade specimens of all the important textile materials used by the people of India. Thirteen of these sets were to be deposited at selected institutions in England and seven in India. The selection of Huddersfield as a place of deposit reflects its importance as a textile town and the importance of the Mechanics' Institution as a centre of learning.

The complete set of volumes of Textile Fabrics of India has not survived. The volumes which remain have been deposited in the University's Archives and Special Collections. A finding aid publication written by the original curator as a guide to the fabrics contained in the volumes is also available with the collection. J. Forbes Watson, The Textile Manufactures and the Costumes of the People of India (Varanasi: Indological Book House, 1982).

This collection of fabrics from India contains Men's Garments (from Madras, Canara, Bombay, Sind, Punjab). Boy's Garments (from Canara), Women's Garments (from Madras, Canara, Dharwar, Calcutta, Pegu, Nepal) , Girl's Garments from (Madras), Muslins (from Bengal, Patna, Calcutta, Deccan), Cotton and Silk (from Bengal, Rajpootana States, Benares, Bombay), Piece Goods (from Benares, Bombay, Punjab), Chintzes (from Madras), Table Napkins (from Madras and Bombay), Towels (from Madras), Rugs (from Madras and Bengal), Handkerchiefs (from Madras), Long Cloth (from Madras).

Administrative / Biographical History

Fabric volumes originally held by the university and transferred into the archive for permanent preservation. Finding Aid publication transferred from Library Stock.

Access Information

Original available for consultation by appointment

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

In good condition, although bindings on some fabric volumes in fragile condition. Document support equipment may be required for access.

Custodial History

Given to the Mechanics Institute from the Museum of India. Held in the Textiles Department before transfer to the Archives.

Related Material

Desmond, Ray, ‘Reporter on the Products of India’ in The India Museum, 1801-1879, London, HMSO, 1982

Driver, Felix, ‘Exhibiting South Asian Textiles’ in Christopher Brewer, ed., British Asian Style: Fashion & Textiles / Past & Present, London, V&A Publishing, 2010.

Driver, Felix & Ashmore, Sonia, ‘The Mobile Museum: Collecting and Circulating Indian Textiles in Victorian Britain’, Victorian Studies, Vol.52, No. 3, Spring 2010, pp. 353-385.

Jones, Jonathan, 'Fugitive Pieces', The Guardian, 25 September 2003, http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2003/sep/25/heritage.art. Accessed: 18/05/2016.

Lyons, Agnes M. M., ‘The Textile Fabrics of India and Huddersfield Cloth Industry’, Textile History, 27 (2), 1996, pp. 172-194.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 'Watson, John Forbes (1827-1892) physician and expert on India', http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/printable/28847. Accessed: 18/05/2016.

Swallow, Deborah, ‘The India Museum and the British-Indian textile trade in the late nineteenth century’, Textile History, 30 (I), 1999, pp.29-45. (Copies of some articles are included in collection, see Supplementary Material)

included in online exhibition “Pressure Power and Patterns” exhibition at https://wakelet.com/wake/fc607dec-fa8f-4024-b364-033b379702a7.