‘When Indian Flowers Bloomed in Europe’: Book throws light on masterworks of Indian trade textiles

A new book tells the story of how Indian handcrafted textilesincluding dye-painted chintzes and embroidered palampores, made their way to Europe and inspired European textile manufacturing.

Published by Niyogi Books, “When Indian Flowers Bloomed in Europe” is an in-depth study of 30 unique textile items from the 17th and 18th centuries in the TAPI Collection as well as similar pieces in museums around the world. The book is authored by Dutch historian Ebeltje Hartkamp-Jonxis.

TAPI, a private collection in the city of Surat and an acronym for ‘Textiles and Art of the People of India’, is a testament to the rich and colorful tapestry of India’s textile and art heritage. Founded by Praful and Shilpa Shah, it is named after the River Tapi of Surat as a tribute to the city — its home.

“Some 20 years ago I happened to meet Shilpa and Praful Shah at a textile fair in London, while they were looking at an Indian chintz in the stand of one of the participating art dealers.
“We remained in contact, and as the time went on, we exchanged emails very regularly. The book is a result of our shared interest in Indian trade textiles,” the author said in a statement.
The book sheds light on how the merchant companies of Europe, established with the aim of sourcing exotic eastern spices, stumbled upon Indian handmade textiles and found these a highly profitable product for their home markets.

Accompanied by rarely seen images from museums and private collections, the informative text also features examples of intricately hand-drawn dye-painted cotton chintzes made in the Coromandel Coast, and embroidered palampores and garment pieces made in Gujarat and the Deccan.

“These brightly patterned, washable, colourfast and inexpensive cottons so captivated European society that they posed a threat to their local textile producers. This catalog is aimed as a proud salute to those nameless, skilled artisans of the past who remained unaware of the enormous legacy they were to leave behind,” said Shilpa Shah, co-founder of the TAPI Collection.

According to the publishers, the book is a “visual delight” featuring superb samples of handcrafted Indian textiles and embroidery from the TAPI Collection.

“This book is an important addition to textile history as it explores how Indian handcrafted textiles, such as dye-painted chintzes and embroidered palampores, made their way to Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries and inspired European textile manufacturing,” said Trisha De Niyogi, director and COO of Niyogi Books.

“When Indian Flowers Bloomed in Europe” is currently available for sale across offline and online stores.

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