Indian floral textile designs

Florals began to be used in Indian textile design during the 12th century when Islamic influence was dominant. During the Mughal empire of North India in the early 17th century, herbal books from Europe had reached India, revealing naturalistic depictions of flowers. These were incorporated into Indian designs but as the century wore on, the motifs became more stylized. One particularly strong patron was Emperor Jahangir (ruled 1605-27) who had a great love of nature.

Painted and dyed Indian textiles were also produced specifically for western markets and traded by the British and Dutch East India Companies. These textiles are called ‘chintz’, which comes from the Indian word chint (to sprinkle). The chintz market diminished considerably when printing technology improved in Europe.

Influences between east and west went both ways. Embroideries were made in Gujurat for the western market, borrowing ideas from English embroidery designs of the 17th century.

One of the most fashionable Indian textiles was the Kashmir shawl, which very popular between the 1770s and the 1840s. This featured simple floral motifs called botehs, which Europeans copied and turned into the Paisley print we know today.

 Indian chintz bedcover V&A

Bedcover, cotton chintz, made for the Dutch market, 1700-1725.

Indian historic chintz V&A 

Floor spread, cotton chintz, hand-painted and dyed, c 1630s

Indian historic textiles V&A

Wall hanging, cotton chintz, Coromandel coast, 1700-1725

(All photos copyright Zena & Rose Design Ltd. Textiles above can been seen in the V&A Museum)