Textile Society of America


India in Situ: Textile History and Practice, a Team Approach

Annin Barrett, anninbarrett.com
Carol Bier, Graduate Theological Union
Anna Jolly, Abegg-Stiftung
Louise W. Mackie
Barbara Setsu Pickett, University of Oregon

Copyright © 2020 Annin Barrett, Carol Bier, Anna Jolly, Louise W. Mackie, & Barbara Setsu Pickett


Five textile specialists from various backgrounds came together to explore shared interests in Indian fabrics, histories, and architectural patterns. Guided by Rahul Jain’s extraordinary scholarship and generosity, we visited weaving workshops producing exquisite fabric and metallic yarn in our quest to understand the naqsha system for drawloom patterning. In Cholapur and Varanasi, we studied drawlooms set up to weave velvet, lampas, and samite, and a distinguished naqshaband demonstrated the making of a naqsha that provides the design for drawloom lifts. We examined rare historic textiles in New Delhi’s National Museum, Ahmedabad’s Calico Museum of Textiles, Varanasi’s Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum, and private collections. In Jaipur, we visited the Indian Institute of Crafts and Design, Nila House, Anokhi Farm, City Palace Museum, and Prince Albert Hall Museum, and in Ahmedabad, the National Institute of Design and the Kasturbhai Lalbhai Indigo Museum. At Patola House in Patan, we observed the preparation and weaving of double ikat. Our diverse perspectives resulted in a most enjoyable interdisciplinary traveling seminar. Come with us as we share our adventure in collaborative textile research.

Themes of inquiry:• Understanding the naqsha harness for the Indian drawloom • Examining relations between textiles and architecture • Using symmetry analysis to recognize pattern repeats • Considering fashion in India, an evolving tradition • Learning about the revival of natural indigo in India • Observing craft traditions preserved through development and sustainability

Our team: • Annin Barrett—textile artist and designer; instructor, fashion history and sustainable design • Carol Bier—curator, The Textile Museum (1984-2001); research associate (2001-2020); research scholar, Center for Islamic Studies, Graduate Theological Union • Anna Jolly—curator of textiles 1500-1800, Abegg-Stiftung, Riggisberg, Switzerland • Louise Mackie—curator emerita, Textiles & Islamic Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Royal Ontario Museum, and The Textile Museum • Barbara Setsu Pickett—associate professor emerita, Department of Art, University of Oregon