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Indiennes (English version)

Dernière mise à jour : 10 avr. 2020



The origins of European textile printing The history of textile printing begins in India. Since ancient times (perhaps 2000 years before our era), Indian craftsmen have passed on from generation to generation the secrets of the art of decorating cotton canvases. Long, complex and empirical, the manufacturing processes of these Indian women are based on the use of mordants, metal salts which, applied to canvas, have the property of fixing dye dyes. This mastery of chemical processes gives birth to a palette of rich and brilliant colors, dominated by madder reds and indigo blues. The Portuguese, the first, bring back to Europe these cotton fabrics painted and printed in India. The Indian are the first prints, brought to Europe at the end of the 16th century. They quickly seduce an era accustomed to heavy silks, woolen fabrics and linen fabrics. Indian dresses please with their freshness and the hangings light up the interiors. Here the visitor discovers the secret of these prints with rich patterns in brilliant hues which is based on the principle of mordant, metallic salt which fixes the dye on the fiber. The intensification of trade relations between East and West during the 17th century ensured the triumph of these light fabrics, very resistant to light and washing, with lively and varied decorations, also capable of satisfying the taste of Europeans for the exotic. In a society accustomed to heavy fabrics of silk and wool or plain linen fabrics, success is dazzling. The Indian Companies have no trouble selling increasingly large freight. Decors and markets The iconography of Indian women is partly the result of a commercial strategy. In their rich decorative grammar, Indian artisans use, often in response to precise orders, the elements that best meet the demand of their customers. On the spot, the representatives of the Indian Companies give precise directives for the realization of decorations adapted to the European market. Stylized flowers figured without depth, in two dimensions, undulating stems, geometry of natural or imaginary plants create an ornamental botany where the elegance of the graphics and the balance of the bright colors prevail. European engravings circulate and serve as models; heraldic figures are placed on Indian hangings: the exchange of sensitivities ensures economic success. Museum of Printing on Fabrics - Mulhouse

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