It was in 3000 BC the Indian Textiles started its versatile and vibrant journey with its extensive use of mordant dyes and printing blocks. The vast diversity and variety of fibers, intricate weaving on its state-of-art manual looms and its organic dyes attracted buyers from all over the world for ages.
India gave the world Madras checks from Tamil Nadu, Ikats from Andhra and Orissa, tie and dye from Gujarat and Rajasthan, brocades from Banaras, Jacquards from Uttar Pradesh, Daccai from West Bengal, and Phulkari from Punjab through its immense textile treasures. The story of the Indian handlooms is all about patient nurturing of an industry which touches upon the livelihood of millions of Indians.
Lots has been lost and lots has been kept alive by the ingenuity and skill of artisans which contributed to the success in preserving the long tradition of excellence in Indian handlooms. One such tradition is the Madras checks which was called the Bleeding checks or bleeding Madras as it leached color in every wash and it survived for long inspite of low fastness in colour due to good patronage by people. They liked the look of the fabric as it changed colour every time it was laundered.
The fabric is mentioned many times in the S.E. Hinton book “The Outsiders” as a favored pattern of shirts and jackets worn by the Socs. The book is set in the early 1960s, a period when Madras was particularly fashionable amongst preps. It is also mentioned several times in the song “M79” by the American band Vampire Weekend. (Source: Wikipedia).
Indian handlooms are going global in a big way and have been duly supported and patronized by designers, gurus of sustainable design , nonprofit organizations and of course the green earth global pilots.
Madras checks came a long way from cotton in plaids to a fabric which is now made in rayon, silk, linen and even polyester and their blends. “Striped in Design”, checks or plaids. From natural dyes to chemical bleeding dyes to colorfast colors it has made a full circle “Stripped of Chemicals” back to the natural colors supporting the Slow Movement in good earth practices. Historically Madras checks from Madras now Madras checks is being made us in Natural dyes. Way to go in Handloom.
We at Kaumudi Studio, make handloom clothing exciting !!!
Dr. Sharmila Nagraj Nandula