The Indian Silk Story

Silk was originally introduced in India by Chinese traders from Samarkand and Bukhara and it gained immense popularity among the royalty and the aristocracy. King and nobles bought the woven fabric by the yard, wearing it as a gown or using it as a wrap or shawl. Jamawar weaving centres in India developed in the holy cities and the trade centres. The most well known Jamawar weaving centres were in Assam, Gujrat, Malwa and South India.

Due to its rich and fine raw materials, the rich and powerful merchants used Jamawar and noblemen of the time, who could not only afford it but could even commission the weavers to make the fabric for them,

The Indian motifs were greatly influenced by nature like the sun, moon, stars, rivers, trees, flowers, birds etc. The figural and geometrical motifs such as trees, lotus flower, bulls, horses, lions, elephants, peacocks, swans, eagles, the sun, stars, diagonal or zigzag lines, squares, round shapes, etc. can be traced through the entire history of Jamawar and are still being used but in a rather different form in terms of intricacy and compositions, thus creating new patterns.

Indian weaver predominantly used a wide variety of classical motifs such as the swan (hamsa), the Lotus (kamala), The Tree Of Life (kulpa, vriksha), the Vase of Plenty (purna, kumbha), the Elephant (hathi), the Lion (simha), flowing floral creepers (lata patra), Peacocks (mayur) and many more.

Complex patterns were developed only when additional decorative elements were included in the basic pattern. During later periods, the gap between the motives was also filled with smaller motives or geometrical forms. The iris and narcissus flowers became the most celebrated motifs of this era and were combined with tulips, poppies, primulas, roses and lilies. A lot of figurative motives were also used in the Mughal era such as deers, horses, butterflies, peacocks and insects. The Mughal kings played a vital role in the enhancement of Jamawar by putting their inspirations into the cloth’s designing and visiting the weavers on a regular basis to supervise its making. Shining, decorative pallus were jals were the main designs of this time. The borders were usually woven with silk and zari.

In recent years, the Indian government has attempted a modest revival of this art by setting up a shawl-weaving centre at Kanihama in Kashmir. Efforts to revive this art have also been made by bringing in innovations like the creation of Silk stoles and saris.

Facts and information sourced from Wikipedia Online.
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