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Transregional Trade and TradersSituating Gujarat in the Indian Ocean from Early Times to 1900$
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Edward A. Alpers and Chhaya Goswami

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780199490684

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199490684.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 01 December 2020

Filling Hearts with Joy

Filling Hearts with Joy

Handcrafted ‘Indian Textiles’ Exports to Central Eastern Africa in the Nineteenth Century*

(p.163) 7 Filling Hearts with Joy
Transregional Trade and Traders

Sarah Fee

Oxford University Press

It is generally recognized that cotton textiles made in the Indian subcontinent dominated global markets until outcompeted by Britain’s industrially manufactures in the early 1800s. However, scholars have now nuanced this meta-narrative by era, Indian sub-region, artisan class, and textile type. Building on studies by Chhaya Goswami and Jeremy Prestholdt, this chapter explores the shifting fates of handcrafted ‘Indian cloth’ imports in the years 1800–1900 in eastern Africa. Employing an object-centred approach, it scrutinizes the category of ‘cloth’ as much as the modifiers of ‘British’, ‘Indian’, ‘Gujarati’, or ‘Kutchi’. It shows that of seven basic cloth types, handcrafted goods from western India held a significant share of many. It supports Haynes’ (2012) work that Indian textile artisans did not merely survive in the age of industrialization; they actively innovated. Colour was often key, highlighting the importance of India’s dyers and printers, often overlooked in favour of spinners and weavers.

Keywords:   Cotton textile, Indian Subcontinent, Eastern Africa, Kutch, Weavers, colours of weave, material culture

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