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  • Writer's pictureMitra

How Indian weaving was destroyed?



The Indian fabric Chintz, dominated the Western interiors and fashion until the French stole the secret production process form us. The story of Chintz remains a chapter from the #indianhistory we haven’t heard about. We’re changing that and talking about the fabric called Chintz.


My name is Mitra and I welcome you to Tejomaya Bharat - Dazzling India - A channel to discover Bharat afresh. My commitment to you is that you’ll leave here with facts/resources and information that will give you a new view / new perspective of looking at our grand civilization.

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Our #CraftyWednesdays expert for this episode comes from the young and enterprising Malvika who is passionate about Indian handicraft. Brains behind the popular Instagram handle @Indiacrafthunt. There she tells the stories of the beautiful traditional crafts hidden in every nook and corner of Bharat. So make sure you go follow her on Instagram.

We have seen the complex production process that made Chintz so luxurious and desirable. We also looked at how the demand for Chintz influenced trade and how the French catholic priest stole the secret production process in 1742. If you missed the previous episodes, I will add the links in the description.

So what happened after the French stole our secret? Well, that’s how the European textile industry got a leg up.

Well, in 1759 the ban against chintz was lifted. But by this time French and English mills were able to produce chintz on their own. Europeans at first produced reproductions of Indian designs, and later added original patterns. A well-known make was toile de Jouy, which was manufactured in Jouy, France, between 1700 and 1843.

On the back of this success, the Lancashire textile mills became the very engine driving the English industrial revolution. The Lancashire textile boom could never have taken hold without the protection of high tariff walls against the world’s great textile workshop in India. Indian handweavers, whose quality was high and wages low, had been the centre of world production for centuries. But the British protectionism, in combination with the extension of imperial power through the East India Company, completely changed the rules of the game - especially for Bharat.

The British policy transformed India from an exporter of textiles to a supplier of raw cotton for Lancashire factories. Their tactics were brutal. They included smashing the hands and cutting off the thumbs of Indian weavers while implementing a system of usurious taxes favouring cotton production – sometimes provoking famine in the process.

The cheap European Chintz lacked the lustre and finish of the original and gradually fell out of favour. The death knell came from a 1996 ad campaign by IKEA that encouraged British housewives to throw away their fussy furnishings. You see, at the time IKEA was struggling to sell its cheap, modern furniture in the UK, where consumers still preferred their chintz.

In order to succeed in the UK, Designer NareshRamchandani felt that IKEA had to "convert the UK's sense of what homely is. To get the Ikea style adopted, they had to put it right at the centre of British taste, and push out the old version of British taste."

Ramchandani pitched his preposterous idea to IKEA. In his own words, Ramchandani says "It was a proper piece of propaganda; total propaganda. Our strategy was to change British taste over the next five years."This was born the popular"Chuck out your chintz" campaign.

Barely 3 decades later, the propaganda has been widely successful and the results are here for us all to see. IKEA has turned our world into bland blacks whites and shades of grey that lack any colour, patterns, textures or variety, let alone the actual production skills we saw at the beginning.

We continue to find the echoes of the Chintz revolution to this day, with fashion houses such as #Mulberry and #Gucci drawing abundant inspiration from these colourful designs in their 2018 autumn collections."


The systematic destruction of the #indianhandlooms industry by the British is cruel, to say the least. However, India still is home to some of the finest #craftspeople in the world. Find them, support them by buying #handmade #indian goods more often.
Thank you for listening to this unheard story of the Indian fabric that once changed the world. If you've derived value from this research please make sure you subscribe to this channel, leave a comment below and share it with at least one other person or group.
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  1. Bekhrad, J., n.d. The Floral Fabric That Was Banned. [online] Available at: <>

  2. n.d. Chintz. [online] Available at: <>

  3. Fee, S., n.d. THE CLOTH THAT CHANGED THE WORLD: India’S Painted And Printed Cottons. [online] Available at: <>

  4. Instagram. n.d. About Chintz. [online] Available at: <> .

  5. Yafa, S., 2014. Cotton. New York: Penguin Books.

  6. Zanten, V., 2020. Chintz 101: A Primer For The Print That’S Back In A Big Way. [online] Vogue. Available at: <>

  7. New Internationalist. n.d. Cotton - A History. [online] Available at: <>

  8. Yafa, S., 2014. Cotton. New York: Penguin Books.

  9. Zanten, V., 2020. Chintz 101: A Primer For The Print That’S Back In A Big Way. [online] Vogue. Available at: <>

  10. The Inside Blog. n.d. A Brief History Of Chintz - The Inside Blog. [online] Available at: <>.

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