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India: The Philosophy of Weaving

Updated: Jun 11

If objects could tell the story of their appearance and disappearance, of their movement across the surface of the earth, driven by chance, necessity, and human passions, they would reveal a compelling tapestry capable of unveiling hidden meanings in the flow of #HistoryOfHumanity.

Let's discover India: The Philosophy of Weaving.

If one were to tell the enchanting story that has linked India to Western civilization for millennia, it would reveal all those similarities and coincidences that uncover the affinities of Eurasian peoples and their cultures, which emerge only at certain moments in #History.

India has a spinning wheel on its flag, and #Weaving has been one of its principal arts since prehistoric times. For millennia, it has been maintained, passing its symbolic messages from father to son, from village to village, through the originality of a motif, the vibrancy of a design, and the alchemy of color. The colors, say the Indians, produce the modulations of the soul; the red of Rajasthani heroism, the ochre of agricultural work, the white of renunciation, the yellow of enlightenment, and the indigo of the monsoons form the rainbow of civilization. The history of the world is told on #IndianFabrics just like in myths and epics.

There is a story of a spider god who wove all of India’s cotton into an immense web, extending beyond the Himalayas to capture the god of the Indo-European invaders, the Aryans; of a queen defeated and enslaved by the conqueror who ordered his guards to strip her, but her clothes multiplied, wrapping around the columns of the hall and suffocating the conqueror.

During the #ArchaeologicalExcavations of the city of Harappa, invaded and probably destroyed by the Aryans around 2000 B.C., fragments of fabrics found in a silver vase reveal the same dyeing techniques used in contemporary India. The Roman emperors knew the fine muslin of cotton, called it the "Fabric of the Winds of India," and the Roman coins found in the excavations indicate that even then the West desired the products of those master artisans.

The Greeks, Persians, and Mongols who invaded India over the millennia of its history were drawn by the riches they had heard of; subsequently, their culture was also modified and absorbed by the great Indian magma where everything sediments without ever disappearing. India welcomes everything: peoples, religions, customs, techniques, and everything survives there simultaneously. Everything is written in its #Fabrics: the luxury of #Brocades, the rustle of #Silks, the lightness of #Cotton have always fascinated Europe, a tactile memory of its cultural roots.

In 1876, Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India; the wealth of the textiles contributed to the #IndustrialRevolution in England, transforming the East India Company into an economic empire, a bearer of new technologies. #MahatmaGandhi understood the importance of weaving, both philosophically and politically; he urged every Indian to spin cotton daily for inner silence and to wear only their own fabrics, in response to the English economic yoke that had suffocated this art in India by manufacturing textiles by machine in England.

"India and Italy are similar," writes #JawaharlalNehru in his autobiography of 1936: "both countries with ancient traditions behind them ... in all diversity, unity has always prevailed and the concept of Italy, like that of India, has never disappeared ... there is also a similarity in their geographical positions in the two continents."

Today, the great designer Capucci, a magician of colors and forms, dreams with the help of the silks and colors of India, and the most discerning travelers seek the rare #ShahTush shawl, so warm yet so soft and light that it can pass through the smallest of rings they wear. The charm still persists.

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