You are to note that the people of this country doe not buy our sortes of Indian cloth soe much for necessity as for the new and strange fashions and painteinges, beinge a people desiringe change, for they have great stores of silke and linnen stuffes made here better and cheaper than we can afford our Indian cloth. So we must strive to p’cure strange sortes of cloth with strange painteings every year. Ralph Coppendale quoted on the Japanese market circa 1615 in Indian Textiles in the East, John Guy.

The trade of Indian cloth in the world was at its peak in the 17th and 18th century.  The cloth was largely from Gujarat and the Coromandel Coast (like patolas and kalamkaris hence referred to as painted cloth) as well as some quantity of Bengal muslins.  In the East a good deal of the cloth went to Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia. The Dutch East India company was involved with some of this trade but there also existing trade links between India and Thailand. And through Thailand and the Dutch, with Japan.

As the extract above indicates, in Japan the trade was of a small volume but highly varied and novel and also often of a better quality and expensive. For clothing articles, use of sarasa* aka chintz was for obi and kosodes rather than outer kimonos to conform to wabi (quiet taste) requirements. The brilliant colours also meant that they were used as temple cloth and in costumes for Noh.  Motifs were both Indian and Japanese in tone  — as an aside interesting that this Coromandel coast fabric for the Dutch market incorporates Japanese motifs, suggesting how much the trade was inter-connected.

See also Persian and Indian textiles in early modern Japan.

Pic 1: Kosode, underrobe. Tailored from an Indian palampore with flowering tree design, early 18th century, cotton.

Pic 2: Nobleman’s outer jacket (jinhaori) tailored early 19th century (Edo period). The tails are made of Indian sarasa (chintz).

Pic 3: Fragment of Indian sarasa for the Japanese market, Coromandel coast, late 17th/18th century.

Pic 4: Kosode, underrobe. Tailored in the Taisho-Meiji period (1912-1926) as a patchwork of 18th/19th century Indian painted cottons, 19th century European printed cotton and Japanese stencilled cloth.

*derived from the Gujarati word saras aka excellent.


Об авторе Tiffani Leon
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