Indo-Danish Textile Workshop – University of Copenhagen

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Perspectives on Production, Trade and Cultural Interactions

9 AM to 5.30 PM

Registration 8.45 to 9.00 AM

9AM to 10.15
Welcome by Prof. Bhagawan Josh, Chairperson, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU
Release of Prof. Vijaya Ramaswamy’s book Song of the Loom, (Primus Publishers, an imprint of Ratnasagar) by the Vice Chancellor Prof. Sudhir K.Sopory, JNU.
Introductory remarks by Prof.Vijaya Ramaswamy
Chair Prof. Bhagawan Josh

Laila Tyabji Inaugural Lecture
– an overview of Indian Textile History and briefly on the significant role played by DASTKAR

Tea Break 10.15 to 10.30

Morning Session

Chair : Ms.Laila Tyabji
 All Papers will be of 20 minutes duration followed by ten minutes discussion. Joint Presentations will have a time allocation of 15 minutes each.

10.30 to 11.15
Joint presentation
Marie Louis Nosch Research Professor, Director
The Danish National Research Foundation's Centre for Textile Research (CTR)
SAXO Institute, University of Copenhagen
Dr. Berit Hildebrandt, former PostDoc at CTR, now: Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany

First Presentation From Texts to Textiles in ancient Greece
The lecture shows how ancient texts from the 2nd and 1st mill. BC can be compared to iconography and archaeological artifacts to illustrate ancient textile production. Textiles were produced in the domestic sphere but also in palace-monitored workshops, in sanctuaries and in state-controlled workshops. Textiles were used for clothing but also for a range of political and religious motifs. Thus the discussion of ancient textiles brings new light on the private and public lives of the ancient Greeks.

Second Presentation: All roads are leading to India? ‘ Indian Silk in Roman Texts’
From the second half of the 1st century on Roman literature mentions imported silk (sericum/serikon). The Roman elite appreciated the new material very much. Until the 6th century CE though it had to be imported into the Mediterranean. In early texts the main source of silk is assumed to be the Seres (“Chinese”) at the eastern ends of the silk roads. But perceptions seem to change: In late antiquity , during the 4th century CE it,  the origin of silks is frequently named as “India”. A handbook for seafaring merchants, the Periplus Maris Erythraei(PME) that was written in the 1st century CE, documents a very good knowledge of the topography of the modern-day Red Sea, the Indian Ocean and the west Indian coast as well as parts of the east Indian coast. In the southwest of India it is the seaports of Nelkynda, Muziris and Bakare where the merchants could get silk. We also find explicit references to Indian silk in the church fathers who had a comparably good knowledge of ancient geography and therefore are unlikely to have confounded India with other countries. This presentation re-interprets the source of Mediterranean silk in the light of fresh textual evidence.

11.15 to 11.45
Dr. Ishrat Alam, : Member Secretary, Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi
Textile Production and Technology in Medieval North India

11.45 – 12.15
Mary Harlow: Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Classic and Ancient History, University of Birmingham and Visiting Professor, CTR
Matrona and whore: walking the tightrope between social approval and condemnation
Roman women had to tread a careful path between modest dress and over adornment. Dress codes created by husbands and fathers constrained female dress and dictated a particular wardrobe that both covered the body in ways that were considered decent and used materials than demonstrated economic moderation. At the same time, the same husbands and fathers required wives and daughters who would reflect the wealth and status of their families and their ability to indulge in exotic luxuries. This lecture will look at how Roman women negotiated these wardrobe dilemmas.

12.15 to 12.45
Vijaya Ramaswamy: Professor, (Professor of History, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU)

Cultural-scape of Textiles in Medieval South India
The South Indian textile industry has a continuous history more than two thousand years dating back to the pre-Christian era. Weaving communities of South India such as the Senguntar (Kaikkõļar), Sāliyar and the Dēvāngar, can boast of a hoary tradition, with their ancestors playing a prominent role in the economic and cultural life of the South in the great temple building era of Pallavas and Cholas and in the heydays of the Deccani Sultanates and the Vijayanagar empire.  In today’s age of rapidly changing life-styles and technology explosion, the continuance of the traditional weaving communities in the handloom industry, is a remarkable feature of the South Indian cultural fabric.
Folk narratives, collective memories of communities memories and traces of everyday lives, along with perspectives obtained from eye witness accounts, have become crucial in the deconstruction of existing histories and in the writing of the history of subalterns which would include communities such as peasants, craftsmen and weavers. It is this cultural-scape which this paper hopes to explore in the context of South Indian textiles and weavers.

Lunch Break 12.45 Pm to 1.45 PM

Post Lunch Session

Chair Marie Louis Nosch


1.45 to 2.15
Eva Andersson Strand: Associate Professor, Danish National Research Foundation, CTR

Textiles and Textile production in Viking Age Scandinavia
The Scandinavian Vikings are most famous as explores, warriors, merchants and pirates who raided and colonized wide areas of Europe from the late eighth to the early eleventh centuries. However, most people at the time lived in individual farms or in small villages in Scandinavia. Furthermore there is clear evidence of both international trade and specialised craftsmanship. Textiles and clothing were of great importance in Scandinavia also during the Viking period.  In the Viking Sagas we can hear about men and women wearing different types of garments, like shirts, cloaks, trousers, shoes, gloves and so on. This presentation focuses on the textiles and textile production in Birka and Helgö. Birka is famous because it is the earliest known “town” in Sweden. Here archaeologists have excavated both the settlement area and over 1000 burial mounds, containing Sweden’s largest assemblage of both preserved Viking age textiles and textile tools.

2.15 to 2.45
Santosh Rai: Assistant Professor, Khalsa College, Delhi University
Madanapura as Metaphor for Weaver Migrations and Cultural Residues 
In this paper I take up the issue of migration as a crucial ingredient of cultural formation of the community of the Muslim Julaha weavers in colonial India. At first migration process appears contrary to community formation. Migration disrupts stable community and is usually associated with cultural dislocation. However, as I shall demonstrate not only was migration central in the constitution of the community of the Muslim weavers but also in the process of its reconstitution. Socially migration is case of being Muhajir (migrant) or Jila-Watan (exiled) but economically, migration is a strategy as well. Weavers’ migration from United Provinces to other parts of India had implications both for the migrants as well as for the world they left behind. The terms Madanpura or Mominpura emerged as a metaphor to symbolize Muslim Julaha weavers’ migration having such emotive value and sense of association that the late nineteenth century migrants to western India also decided to settle in recreated Madanpuras. Though the Madanpuras of Ibrahimpur, Mubarakpur, Mau, Benaras, Bombay and Calcutta hardly have a contemporary visible connection between them but it shows an earnest desire on the part of the migrants to recreate and reproduce the locality of the homes left behind. Migration was not just a strategy for survival; it was also a process of reproduction of community through the metaphor of “Madanpura”.

2.45 to 3.15

Vibe Maria Martens: Research Assistant,The Danish National Research Foundation's Centre for Textile Research, Copenhagen
Indian textiles in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth Century Denmark: Colonialism and the Rise of a Global Consumer Culture: preliminary findings.

This paper examines the significance of Indian textiles in the economy and culture of Denmark and the Danish colonies between 1660 and 1830 and will present preliminary findings of the size, volume and type of Danish trade that involved Indian textiles as well as to what extent these textiles were circulated in Denmark.   Indian textiles are key components in the articulation of eighteenth-century global economic and colonial networks.

Tea Break

Chair: Rajat Datta

3.30 to 4.00

Dr. Arvind Sinha:   Associate Professor, European History Specialist, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University
In the first half of the eighteenth century, all the European countries were competing with each other to seize the largest share of the Indian trade that comprised mainly of textiles. By the second half of the eighteenth century, the commercial struggle transformed into a political contest between the English and the French which resulted in frequent wars between the two. Attempts to control the weaving centres created serious friction in their relations. Notwithstanding the vissicitudes of the French official policy towards India, the French were deeply involved in the textile trade that found market not only in Europe but also in south-east Asia, Africa and the New World. The present paper attempts to explore the role of the French in textile trade in the Coromandel region. This paper deals with the french attempts penetrate the centres of cloth production, the collaboration of the European bankers to participate in this trade and the growing challenges faced by the Indian textiles in Europe.  
4.00 to 4.30 Martin Ciszuk: Ph.D Fellow, School of Textiles, University of Borås, Sweden

18th century Indian textiles in Swedish collections and the Indian influence on design of Swedish printed cottons
The Swedish East Indian trading company 1731-1813 is mostly known for it’s Chinese contacts, but the trading also route also passed India and Indian goods were imported to Scandinavia. Only a very few 18th century textiles in Swedish collections have been identified as Indian. A much stronger evidence for the Indian contacts is in the designs and printing technology of the Swedish printed cottons. However, this was mainly mediated through Dutch craftsmen.

4. 30 to 5.00

Kirsten Toftegaard  Curator,  Designmuseum Denmark

The aesthetics of textiles: Indian embroidery
The Tranquebar Tapestry in the collection of Designmuseum Danmark, 1740-46

The hand-drawn, mordant and resist-dyed cotton tapestry from 1740-46, called the Tranquebar tapestry, was produced in India. The Tranquebar tapestry takes its name after the eighteenth century Danish colony, Tranquebar, situated on the east coast of India. The finest of all the patterned and coloured textiles were said to have been produced in an area around the east coast of India, known as the Coromandel Coast. 
The Indians mastered the technology to perfection at that time and textiles within the technique were exported to countries both to the east and to the west. The tapestry was probably used on a bed, either as a quilt, as a wall-hung bedhead or as a tester. It is fair to assume that this tapestry was ordered by a Dane who had close ties to the colony. The scene it portrays is one of daily life in Tranquebar, and the large, crowned red hearts bear the monogram of Danish King Christian VI.
Few tapestries have survived in collections, the Tranquebar tapestry being one of them. On the tapestry, can be seen the militia raising the Danish flag as well as numerous hunting scenes. Several features, including the elephants, reflect the traditions within Indian painting, so even though the person who commissioned the work was Danish, the artisan has subtly incorporated his or her own perspectives into the piece. In one area of the tapestry, a distinguished Indian princess is depicted who, on horseback, is shooting a deer, which seems to be falling out of a tree. The princess is light skinned, whereas the servant in the background holding the protective parasol has dark skin. And slightly confusingly, the Danish soldier is holding the reigns of the princess’s horse.
The mixture of Indian traditions and Danish the tapestry is in some ways very hard to decode, and the story within the tapestry has been interpreted in many different ways. Together with fellow Indian researchers it is my hope to raise a discussion about the interpretations of the tapestry and to shed new light on the history within the Tranquebar tapestry. 

Vote of Thanks by Professor Arvind Sinha
5.15  High Tea