Newsletter No. 2-07 (Feb. 2007)   Page 4 of 5 / Sidan 4 av 5. [back to page 1] Arcive/Arkiv: [1] [2]


This newsletter is written in order to spread experiences within the topic of historic textiles and reconstructions. Our ambition is to amuse you and stimulate interest in the 18th Century. Durán Textiles, who is mainly working with museum collections and Royal Castles, was founded in 2002 by CEO and production manager Laila Durán, with co-worker artist Torkel Henriksson who is doing the artworks and preparing the designs for production. Our production is done mostly in India supervised by Duran Textiles inspectors. 
- The articles are mainly written by Laila Durán but we also have help from colleagues and specialists from several museums and universities.  In the future this newsletter will be distributed four times a year and is free of charge. We hope you will enjoy our stories and offers and help us to spread the letter to friends and colleagues. Contact:

Detta nyhetsbrev skrivs för att sprida erfarenheter inom ämnet rekonstruktioner av historiska textiler och 1700-talet. Ambitionen är att roa och stimulera intresset. Durán Textiles har varit verksamt sedan 2002 och arbetar med projekt för Kungliga Slott och museisamlingar i hela Skandinavien. Laila Durán är VD och projektledare, Torkel Henriksson arbetar med originalen och alla förlagor för tryck och väv. På plats i Indien, där de flesta av tygerna produceras, finns Durán Textiles egna inspektörer.
- Artiklarna skrivs huvudsakligen av Laila Durán men vi får även hjälp av kollegor och specialister från olika muséer och universitet.  Nyhetsbrevet kommer i fortsättningen att komma ut fyra gånger per år och är helt kostnadsfritt. Vi hoppas ni ska uppskatta våra artiklar och erbjudanden och även sprida informationen vidare till Era vänner. Kontakt:



Vegetable lambs and spinning politics.
A short history on indian cotton by Laila Durán

Cotton has been used to make very fine lightweigtht cloth in aereas with tropical climats for millennia. Cotton cultivation in the Old World began from India, where cotton has been grown for more than 6000 years, since the pre-Harappan period.

During the midiaeval period, cotton became known as an imported fibre in nothern Europe, without any knowledge of what it came from other than it was a plant; noting its similarities to wool, people in the region could only imagine that cotton must be reproduced by plant-borne sheep. John Mandelwille, writing in 1350, stated as fact the now-preposterous belief: ”There grew there (India) a wonderful tree which bore tiny lambs on the endes of its branches. These branches were so pliable that they bent down to allow the lambs to feed when they are hungrie”. In Europe small fake labs even found their way in to museums.

This aspect is retained in the name of cotton in many European languages, such as German ”Baumwolle”, wich transelates as ”tree wool”. By the end of the 16th century, cotton was cultivated thoughout the varmer regions in Asia and the Americas.

In the 18th century India continued to be the world´s main producer of cotton textiles. The growing export trade extended to the rest of Europe including Britain. Emboideries of silk on white cotton from Gujarat were the first textiles to reach Britan from India, but most popular were dyed cotton wall hangings. In Europe textiles became known by their trade names. Calico fabrics were so named because they were exported from Calicut on the Malabar coast.

By the 1840s, India was no longer capable of supplying the vast quantities of cotton fibres needed by European factories, while shipping bulky, low-price cotton from India was time consuming and expensive. This coupled with the emergence of American cotton as a superior type (due to the stronger fibres of American plants) encouraged European traders to purchase cotton from slave plantations in the United States and the Caribbean.

By the end of the 19th century, Britan who was the largest consumer of cotton in Europe, began manufactoring its own cotton textiles using raw material from America rather than India and the rise of industrial production in eastern Europe led to a collapse of the Indian industry. India struggled to compeat because its production was unmechanised and relied on a large labor force. The growth of India´s mechanised cotton industry was slow to develop, but political movements and the rise of Mahatma Gandhi empowerd the people of India.

Gandhi built his strategy around the revival of traditional arts and skills that would feed lokal demands with local produktion. As part of his policies he encouraged peopel to boycott British goods, particularly textiles, and encouraged Indians to use homespun and woven cotton. He also adopted the ”charka” or spinning wheel as the symbol of his principle of self-sufficiency.

Today cotton is used to make over 40% of the worlds textiles and India and Pakistan are the two top producing countries.




Cotton plant as imagined and drawn by John Manderville in the 14th century.

Painting of a printer/dyer with his fabric and equipment. He is block printing at the top of the image, while the bottom shows the initial dying prosess.


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