Tag: textiles

India in Detail

As I write this, I’m on a plane heading to India, where I will be working for the next couple of weeks. Since I will likely be too busy to post to my blog, I’ve scheduled this post to keep you, and my blog, company while I am away.  Enjoy.

India is incredibly photogenic, however, this is not a post where you’re going to find scenic postcard shots of the Taj Mahal or crowded market scenes.  Rather, I’m going to focus on a few ingredients, a few details, and present them together to give you a taste of… the full flavor….of India.

When I enjoy an Indian meal, I take no spice for granted. I taste every one of them.  It’s like a full-blown symphony plays in my mouth, and each instrument gets a solo at some point during the show.  I become captivated with guessing…”what is that hint of something…that flavor which I would not have expected…”.  I savor it, and appreciate that the dish would be incomplete without it.

The same may be exemplified with a traditional Indian textile:

Each bit is an abstract part that makes up the whole fabric.  Look close and discover various stitches, colors, textures, patterns, and even some mirrors!  As with Indian cuisine, many layers of flavors and spices (scraps and threads) come together to form the perfect masala (or bedspread, in this example).  And there’s always a bit of the unexpected in all of it.

The whole of India is like that, too. 

I’ve scoured the cupboards of my India photo archives to toss together some flavorful ingredients, many of which have never before been published, and present to you a recipe for my visual “Masala of India.”

Incarnations of Vishnu (Khajuraho)

Indian Textiles (Jaipur)

 Mosaic Inlay (Agra)

 Clay Sculpture Faces (Calcutta)

Waters of the Ganges (Varanasi)

Marigolds (Calcutta)

Carved Erotic Temples (Khajuraho)


Carved Floral Relief (Taj Mahal, Agra)

Himalayan Berries (Darjeeling)

Astronomical Map (Observatory, Jaipur)

Ceramic Tiles (Delhi)

Marble Lattice (Amber Palace)

Rounded Stucco Corner (Agra)

Floral Garlands (Calcutta)

Indian Tea Leaves (Darjeeling)

Mix well,  and add enlightenment as needed!

You may also enjoy these related posts on India:


Calcutta the Beautiful

Published in the Rough Guide to India

A Taste of Darjeeling

Gallery of India Images

Travels by Textiles – My Guatemalan Sleeping Bag

I learned a long time ago that the best souvenirs to bring home were things that were easy to pack, wouldn’t break, and didn’t weigh too much. In my shopping abroad, my further requirement was that souvenirs be specific to the country where obtained, and ideally handmade as opposed to factory produced in China (unless I am, in fact, at a factory in China). It was during a solo backpacking trip through Central America, many passports ago, that I discovered and purchased my first such souvenir. A textile.

With this blog as my loom, please join me as I thread the writer’s needle and weave some travel tales around images of textiles. I’ll start where my collection officially began, Guatemala. I hope you enjoy.

MY GUATEMALAN SLEEPING BAG

When I stumbled off the bus at Chichicastenango in the highlands of Guatemala, all I could think about was getting to the market to take pictures. I was wandering with all my senses, seeking faces to immortalize, moments to freeze, and scenes to turn into art. I was fully absorbed in my mission when, through my lens, I noticed a color – a green unlike any green I had seen before. A green that even the Velvia film in my camera could not do justice. A green that simply had to be touched to prove its existence.

I approached the green object billowing in the gentle breeze. Nearer inspection revealed that it was a quilt of sorts, a bedspread or blanket, and the closer I looked, the more enchanted I became. The green I saw from a distance was in fact comprised of several small multi-colored scraps – “pixels” of fabrics – each in itself providing a different tone and texture which, sewn together, harmonized with the others and orchestrated this incredible magnificent green.

My eyes still questioned it all, so I explored it by hand. I shut my eyes, and felt my way along a row of “pixels”. Sure enough, each color and each fabric scrap had it’s own feel, and no two were alike.

“Te gusta? Tengo otros colores…”

I was seeing colors, touching colors, and now, I was hearing colors too.

“rosa…maron…azul…”

I glanced at the others, all beautiful and unique, but none moved me like this palette of green.

“Quando cuesta?” I asked, ready to sulk away at the cost of such an extravagance. As it so happened, I really needed to replace my sleeping bag, but I didn’t want to be spending my travel budget on an item I could easily buy at home. I had put it off for days, but now here I was about to blow my sleeping bag budget on some fancy bedspre…BUT OF COURSE!!

I did my bartering, claimed my souvenir, rolled it up and stashed it in my backpack – using it as necessary, though sparingly, during my journey. Together we shared crowded bumpy overnight buses from the capital, Guate. We lazed in hammocks on the Caribbean coast in Livingston. We absorbed the smells of home cooked Guatemalan meals in Panajachel. We fended off throngs of ferocious mosquitos in the jungles of Tikal. By the end of my travels, every patch on that bedspread represented another experience, and together symbolized the whole of my Guatemalan adventure.

When I got home, I hand washed it in cold salt water (as advised to preserve color), and transformed my simple bed into a cultural exhibit and conversation starter. I’d backpacked through Guatemala. And this textile tells the tale.

This post is part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby, check it out!

Textiles for Textbooks (part I): Sericulture – Silk Farming and Manufacturing

The following series of images represent the process of sericulture and silk manufacturing in China.

Sericulture begins with the feeding of mulberry leaves to the caterpillars of domesticated Silkmoths (Bombyx mori).

When the silkworms are ready, after about 25 days, they are placed among twigs and begin producing silk in a continuous-filament fiber to form a cocoon.

Each cocoon contains about a thousand yards of silk filament!

The cocoons are sorted by hand on a conveyer, and then immersed in hot water to free the silk thread for reeling. The hot water immersion also kills the larvae, by the way. (Thus strict vegans should not wear silk!)

Single filaments are combined to form yarns and are wound on to reels.

The silk is dried and collected in bolts for various forms of manufacturing.

Various plants and substances are sources for natural dyes used to color silk.

Silk Embroidery is a traditional art in China, and requires excellent eyesight!

The same may be said for Silk Carpet weaving, as demonstrated in this video:

For more images, please visit the Silk Gallery at Mira Terra Images. Additional video clips are available for licensing, please contact me if interested.

This is the first part of a series of photo essays presenting textiles from around the world. Textiles for Textbooks (part II) will take a look at Llamas, Wool, and Weavers in the Andes. Stay tuned!

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