Royal Ontario Museum Publishes "Cloth That Changed The World: The Art And Fashion Of Indian Chintz"

New Book Explores The Story Of India’s Richly Colored Textiles With Exhibition Forthcoming

November 22, 2019

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is pleased to announce the publication of “Cloth that Changed the World: The Art and Fashion of Indian Chintz.” The collection of essays explores the far-reaching influence this vividly printed and painted cotton cloth has had on the world, from its origins 5,000 years ago to its place in fashion and home décor today. The volume is the official companion to the ROM-original exhibition, “The Cloth that Changed the World: India's Painted and Printed Cottons,” which will run from April 4 to Sept. 27, 2020, at the museum in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
The scholarly and beautifully illustrated publication draws from the Royal Ontario Museum’s own Indian chintz collection, which ranks as one of the best in the world. Featuring extensive new research, this multidisciplinary book traces the story of chintz and the indelible footprint it has left on the world. The publication combines vivid field photography of artisans at work with striking images from the ROM's world-class collection, as well as images from India’s fashion runways and the work of top designers embracing this heritage textile today.
"The world would be a drab place without India," according to Sarah Fee, editor, “Cloth that Changed the World” and ROM senior curator of Eastern Hemisphere Fashion and Textiles. "Our blue jeans and printed T-shirts trace much of their lineage back to the ingenuity of India’s cotton printers and dyers. This exhibition and companion book celebrate how India ‘clothed the world’ in exuberantly coloured cottons for thousands of years. It explores the art’s resiliency in the face of modern industrial imitation and shares the exciting stories of reviving natural dyes and hand skills in India today.”
Contributing writers include leading experts Ruth Barnes, Rosemary Crill, Steven Cohen, Deepali Dewan, Max Dionisio, Eiluned Edwards, Sarah Fee, Maria João Ferreira, Sylvia Houghteling, Peter Lee, Hanna Martinsen, Deborah A. Metsger, Alexandra Palmer, Divia Patel, Giorgio Riello, Rajarshi Sengupta, Philip Sykas, and João Teles e Cunha, and a preface is by Sven Beckert, Harvard University's Laird Bell professor of history.
The book released on Dec. 2, but next spring will come to life in the ROM's Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles and Costumes, where the exhibition will take visitors on a journey through the ROM’s world-renowned collection of chintz, on public display for the first time in over 50 years.
The striking exhibition will explore thought-provoking themes, including the ingenuity, skill and technique of Indian artisans; the adaptation of chintz for international markets; and the environmental impact of the global textile industry over time. With a focus on attire and home furnishings, the exhibition features 80 objects spanning 10 centuries and four continents. Religious and court banners for India, monumental gilded wall hangings for elite homes in Europe and Thailand, and luxury women’s dress for England showcase the versatility and far-reaching desire for Indian Chintz.
The book has been published in conjuction with the Royal Ontario Museum and Yale University Press.
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