Page 19 - Science India August 2022
P. 19

          However, the colonial period destroyed the Indian textile industry and weav- ers. The British strategically broke the industry by exporting raw material from India and selling finished textile prod- ucts back to India, which consequently affected the Indian economy. The sig- nificance of the Indian textile industry was recognised later and it became a huge part of the freedom struggle, thus establishing the Swadeshi Movement in 1905 for the revival of the Indian tex- tiles or handloom.
The earliest fragment of cotton cloth with a Hansa (swan) design was dug from a site near Cairo in Egypt. There are several archaeological pieces of evi- dence found at various sites of the Indus- Saraswati Valley Civilization, namely Harappa, Mohenjodaro, Chanhudaro, Lothal, Surkotada and Kalibangan. These sites provide evidence for earli- est specimens of spindle and spindle whorls of stone, clay, metal, terracotta and wood, dye vats, needles, woven and
dyed textile fragments, wild indigenous silk moth species, and silk thread inside copper beads confirming that spinning of cotton, wool, weaving, sewing, dye- ing, and use of silk was common.
Vedic literature, Mahabharata, and Ramayana give accounts for the preva- lence of Indian textiles, weaving and spinning materials. In the Mahabharata, Lord Krishna was always described clad in Kashi Pitambara (silk of Banaras, Uttar Pradesh). The high frequency of clothing metaphors and several terms related to weavers in the Rigveda indi- cate that spinning and weaving were highly advanced and honoured occupa- tions in the Vedic society.
During the Mauryan period (321 BCE – 185 BCE), Indian textile reached historical glory due to cross-fertilisation of ideas, culture, style and technologies. There is evidence of greater importance of textile in long distance trade ex- changes of India established with Egypt, China, Iran, and the Mediterranean
Several sites of the Indus- Saraswati Valley civilisation have provided evidence of the earliest specimens of spindle and spindle whorls, as also dye vats and needles
region during this period. Accounts of Megasthenes, a Greek ambassador to the court of Chandragupta Maurya, Kautilya’s Arthashastra, Jataka tales, Buddha and Jain texts give vivid glos- sary of textile sector, indicating a well- developed and structured textile indus- try in ancient India.
In Deccan and southern India, the textile industry especially flourished under the patronage of the Satavaha- nas, the Pallavas and the Chola rulers. Indian textiles were ruling the interna- tional trade across the Indian ocean. Several outstanding centres of cotton and silk weaving came up during ancient times and the reputation of these centres still continues. Tales of the growth of cities like Madurai, Puhar and Kanchi-

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