Indian Textiles: Legacy and Revival

India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru Famously stated. “The history of India may well be written with textiles as its leading motif. “The world’s oldest cotton and indigo (the first dye used by humans) originated in India, and cotton weaving has been practiced for over
4,700 years in the Indus valley.

Miho Museum Kyoto Japan with Al Thani Jewels

The fabrics were so refined and luxurious that they were called “woven air’, ‘running water’, and evening dew, and were in great demand across the ancient civilizations, the foster textiles found in the tomb of the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II trace their origins to India, Historians of Alexander the Great record the beauty of Indian textiles as superior to those of Europe. Augustus Caesar taxed Indian textiles heavily as they were draining the Roman economy. Emperor Napoleon’s wife Empress Josephine posed for portraits wearing luxurious Indian fabrics. The China poblano costume of Mexico is inspired from Indian costume. The Ikat textiles of Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Southern China have their origins in the double ikat ‘Patola’ of India.

Maharani costume-Bahrain National Museum

In The 18 and 19 centuries the Mughals and the Maharajas of India Dazzled the world with their regal splendour, magnificent costumes made with the most luxurious fabrics with
lavish use of gold and silver and even precious gemstones. In the 20th century Mahatma- Gandhi made hand spinning and handloom weaving into an essential element of the Indian independence movement. Today In the industrial age, machines have largely replaced the handloom in the production of textiles, this has greatly endangered and many cases totally irradicated many varieties of ancient India’s hand-crafted textile traditions. The Handloom, it is true cannot compete with the machine. But if the former is discarded all together, a splendid heritage will be lost forever, Hutheesing Family – Collection and revival.

Maharaja and Prince costumes – Paris Exhibition

The historic Hutheesing family of Ahmedabad, India’s first UNESCO world heritage city, traces its roots from the 8th century A.D. Over twelve centuries, they have built important theological, educational and public welfare institutes and contributed to the political and industrial growth of the nation. They have been great patrons of art and culture, with close marital relations with India’s first Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Nobel literate Rabindranath Tagore. They have also been avid collectors and each generation has contributed to the family’s collection. My parents Deepak and Daksha Hutheesing realised the need to preserve the fast-disappearing hand-crafted traditions of Indian textile heritage. Over a span of 50 years, they have collected and preserved many exceptional pieces of textiles and costumes from 18th to 20th century. This collection has religious textiles, ceremonial textiles, royal costumes, as well as those from the merchant and nomadic community. It is a source of research for many knowledge seekers and designers and has been exhibited in important museum around the world.

with HM The Queen of Bahrain at theinnaugration of an exhibition

Having grown up with this legacy I strongly felt that it is equally important to preserve and promote the living heritage of Indian textile artisans and craftsman. I was greatly encouraged by my parents, and we identified master craftsman and started reviving some of the fine traditions of Indian textile heritage, within our Hutheesing Design Company which established in 1835. We have revived and created beautiful costumes and textiles with

Umang and HM The Queen Mother of Bhutan

ancient technic and modern flair for today’s patrons and have several pieces presented in world museum. Today, the Hutheesing Design Company still operates from the same historic studios, where it was established by my ancestors, it distinction of being the first design company of India it has partnered with Tiffani & Co. and Lookwood de forest to execute the interiors of the White house Washington DC as well as many other important homes in United States. Hdc partnered with Lookwood Kipling to create the magnificent Dorbar hall for queen Victoria’s private place Osborne House. The Hutheesing Design Company also won gold medals in the world expo in 1900 in Paris. I am happy to have restored them the Hutheesing Haveli and the studios and continue the family traditions of patronage of art and culture and in a humble way preserve and promote India’s invaluable heritage.

Pierre Berge , Umang Hutheesing and Fredric Mitterrand

The beauty of the Indian handmade fabrics proves the ancient dictum that the first, the best and the most perfect of all instruments is still the human hand.

Museums projects

1 Foundation Pierre Berge Yves Saint Laurent- Paris 2010
2 Bahrain national museum Bahrain
3 Baroque International Museum Puebla Mexico
4 Miho Museum Japan-with the Al Thani jewels -2016
5 National Museum New Delhi -2022

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