The Traditional Textiles of India

The rich culture and tradition of India are truly reflected in its traditional textiles. Many people view India’s textiles as one of its most important exports. India has long been renowned for its textiles, which include both traditional and contemporary styles. Cotton, silk, wool, paper, and jute are just a few of the materials that have been used to create Indian textiles. These fabrics’ designs and patterns have changed over time to reflect Indian cultures and traditions. Various birds and animals that can be found throughout India have served as inspiration for traditional textile designs.

Both handloom and machine-made textiles are included in the classification of traditional textiles. Handloom fabrics are created entirely by hand, without the aid of any machinery. Powerlooms or other machines are used to weave the fabric at a high rate to create machine-made textiles. The traditional Indian clothing is stunning and vibrant. There are numerous designs available.

Traditional Indian clothing is predominantly made of red, yellow, green, blue, and black colors. The colours can be used in a variety of contexts, including embroidery, patterns, and décor. These dresses also have really lovely embellishments. These dresses can be embellished with a wide variety of embroidery styles and materials, such as gold or silver thread. Traditional Indian attire is worn by women all over the world. When you want to look nice, you typically wear them to weddings or festivals.

History of Traditional Indian Textiles

The Indus Valley Civilization is where the history of Indian textiles begins. In an excavation in Mohenjo-Daro (an ancient town located in Pakistan), the earliest piece of cloth still in existence was found. It was discovered with a skeleton wrapped around it and was 2800 years old. This incredible discovery implies that mankind was wearing clothing thousands of years ago.

The city of Taxila in Pakistan’s Punjab province, where the cotton was grown, produced the first cotton textile. Clothing and accessories like shawls and turbans were made out of cotton. Woolen fabrics were used to create clothing, blankets, and carpets in India. The Latin term “textilis,” which means to weave, is where the word “textile” originates. The earliest types of Indian textiles were created by hand-processing natural fibres like cotton, silk, and wool using weaving and knotting processes. During the 10th century AD, Arab traders introduced cotton.

Over the years, numerous other cultures have affected Indian culture. This is reflected in the distinctive traditional attire. Women are increasingly seen wearing traditional Indian clothing all around the nation, as well as in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.

The East India Company, which established Bombay (now Mumbai) as a trading centre in 1618, has had a significant influence on the primary fashion trends in this region. The corporation decided to send out their own traders to locate new sources of materials for their fashion companies back home since they were having problems obtaining appropriate fabrics and styles to wear at home in England and they wanted to create trade relations with other nations. Due to this new source of inspiration, a vibrant array of prints, including Bengali motifs from Bengal (now Bangladesh) and Rajasthani needlework from Rajasthan, started to appear on cloth intended for use in India (now Rajasthan).

Manufacturing Techniques

Following are the major manufacturing techniques −


An ordinary piece of fabric can become a work of art through the use of the surface ornamentation technique of embroidery. Each embroidery in India is based on a distinct set of motifs that are used with a specific set of coloured threads on specific fabrics, such as khaddar for phulkari, voile for chikankari, and Kantha from Bengal.

Illustration and Printing

In Rajasthan and Gujarat, handblock printing is a technique used to create designs on fabrics that may be used for both clothing and furniture. Sanganeri and Bagru are the two types of block printing, and kalamkari is a popular hand-painting style in Andhra Pradesh. Intricate motifs are made using special kalam.

Resist Dyeing

A traditional method of connecting fabric with threads and creating a variety of motifs, such as bandhani and leheria, is called tie and dye. It is widely used in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Popular fabrics from Gujarat and Rajasthan called patola and mahsru are used to make pricey saris and turbans. Their warp and weft are dyed. Wax is used as a resist in the batik process, which also uses cold dyeing to apply the dyes. The natural breaking of wax results in beautiful designs that are used to create a variety of items, including bedsheets, kurtis, sarees, and more. In Orissa, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh, ikat textiles are made from threads that have been tied and coloured.

Handloom or Handwoven Textiles

Weft-faced weaves are the norm in India. Heddle looms are used to produce Kashmiri shawls. Shawls from Kashmir are also embroidered. Zari yarns are used by Banaras’s Brocade of Banaras to make their hefty wedding sarees. In South India, sarees from Kanjivaram and Pochampally are prominent. Eastern India is where Jamdani sarees are made. Maharashtra is where Paithani sarees are woven. Every type of saree has distinctive patterns and colors. The density of the cloth varies along with the yarn count. The cloth known as “khadi” is woven by hand using only hand-spun cotton and occasionally silk.


Every culture has its own distinctive traditional textile arts and production techniques, which are reflected in the world’s commercial production of textiles and clothing. The demand for handmade goods and small-batch textile production is rising as consumers seek out locally owned, distinctive goods that are not mass-produced. Traditional textile handcrafts and techniques flow through many different cultures, all with unique aesthetics and end uses. These textiles are in line with the ideals of the luxury industry because they are made to order by highly skilled artisans.

Artisanal goods have a certain exclusivity that customers may value while also empowering themselves and the maker. Specific textile abilities and traditional techniques differ widely from culture to culture, whether it is Yakan weaving in the Philippines, backstrap weaving in Peru, Indian Kalamkari dying, Japanese Shibori, Cook Islands Tivaevae, or handcrafted Persian rugs. It has genuine value to recognise the textiles as custom-made luxury and to pass on these traditions through the generations.

Updated on: 08-Feb-2023

3K+ Views

Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started