Inside the walls are spectacular visual treasures: a muslin embroidered with green beetle wings; a billowing tent from 1725 belonging to Tipu Sultan, the infamous ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore, and a golden shawl presented to George V in 1911 are among our favourites.
V&A Fabric of India: the experience
The exhibition begins with 'Make', in which the process of printing, weaving and dying various fabrics is explored with videos and textiles that are mostly from the 19th century. From there, visitors are lead into the 'Sacred' rooms, boasting fabrics found on the walls and floors of Hindu temples, Christian churches and Islamic mosques that tell different religious stories. One of the most interesting items is a fascinating talismanic shirt from the fifteenth century inscribed with the entire text of the Qur'an.
The best two sections of the exhibition are 'Splendid' and 'A Global Trade'. Here the most awe-inspiring textiles can be found, including a floral bed spread from the Schloss Hof hunting castle outside of Vienna belonging to Prince Eugene of Savoy and an embroidered Indian riding coat from the early 17th century, with silk threads on a white satin background showing animals and plant life. It is said to be one of the finest examples of Mughal dress in existence.
The finale explores the political importance of Ghandi's use of the home spun Khadi cloth as a mark of resistance to British rule, which is fascinating, before leading to a selection of Indian clothes from contemporary designers inspired by the likes of Alexander McQueen. This gives an insight into modern India as both progressive and traditional that is stirring.
V&A Fabric of India: review
For the most part, the question of why the fabrics were made goes unexplored, which is frustrating. We never learn about the changing cultural significance of certain colours and styles. However, visitors should still go for the items themselves: the rich colours, the beautiful stylised images, and intricate embroidery.
|What||REVIEW: The Fabric of India, V&A|
|Where||V&A, South Kensington, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL | MAP|
|Nearest tube||South Kensington (underground)|
03 Oct 15 – 10 Jan 16, 10.00 - 17.45 daily 10.00 - 22.00 Friday
|Price||£Prices not yet released|
|Website||Click here for more details|