Source: The Journal of Textile Association
From about 600 years ago, when the Indian city of Delhi was being governed by emperors from the Tuglak dynasty, a noticeable amount of interchanges were taking place between Indian and Persian weavers. During an ebullient time in Indian history, when emperor Mohammed Bin Tuglak and his loyal herd of elephants tried to relocate their headquarters to Daulatabad in Maharashtra, some precious trade secrets of Persian shawl weaving techniques clandestinely found their way into the narrow alleys of Aurangabad. At a later period in history, and in the Mogul period, weavers who enjoyed imperial patronage began challenging the supremacy of the Persian weavers. The Himroo shawls produced in India evoked intense curiosity in neighboring foreign lands. This not only guaranteed a lucrative export market, but also uplifted the image of the Mogul dynasty. However, the disintegration of the empire of Aurangazeb resulted in the Maratha and British incursions. These unwarranted political upheavals not only inflicted deep injuries upon civil society, but also disrupted everyday life and stifled the artistic spirit central to Indian culture.
This short piece of literature, we wish to awaken a new spurt of interest in the ancient fabric weaving art of Himroo. While doing so, we have tried to employ a style of narration that was once the hallmark of British historians digging into Indias rich past. We have collected relevant bits and pieces of information from Indian history and woven it into a story about Himroo.
Key words: Himroo weaving, Persian weaving
Culturally, weavers in Turkey and Persia had been burning the midnight oil to conserve a vibrant fabric weaving tradition that often gave a purpose to ones life. While some aging historians hold the view that Himroo weaving originated from Persia, others wish to remain uncommitted to this controversial view.
Originally published in Journal of the Textile Association, Vol. 71 No.6, March-April 2011
The authors are associated with SNDT Womens University, Premlila Vithaldas Polytechnic, Mumbai.