Windows into India in the Time of the Raj
C O NTE NTS
THE BRITISH RAJ
RAJA RAVI VARMA
Notes to the Reader 8
✦ CHAPTER 7 CHAPTER 1
INDIAN COTTON MILLS
GODS and GODDESSES 60
OTHER GODS and GODDESSES 126
✦ CHAPTER 9
FLORA and FAUNA 386
Credits and Acknowledgments
Deities and Other Celestial Beings 536
Company Index 538
introdu c tion
PATTERN CARDS 1. Dhooties Pattern Booklet. c. 1900–1910. Cover with
silver embossing and applied label, 12¼ x 7". I
2. Dhootie Cloth Samples. c. 1900–1910. Cotton dobby
weave, 14 x 5". I. These samples are from the pattern booklet shown in fig. 1. 3. Sari Cloth Pattern Booklet. 1937. Cover with gold embossing and applied B. Taylor & Co. label; pages with roller-printed cotton fabric samples, each sample: 10 x 5½". I 4. “Fancy Prints” Pattern Card. c. 1920s. Roller-printed cotton fabric, 13 x 32" (as shown). I 5. B. Whalley Ashwell & Co. Pattern Booklet. c. 1910. Printed cover, 14 x 9¼". I 6. Jainy Brothers & Co. Pattern Booklet. c. 1910. Printed cover, 13 x 9¼". I 7. Sari Cloth Pattern Booklet. c. 1910. Cover with applied labels and gold trim; pages with roller-printed cotton fabric samples, each sample: 13 x 7½". I
were a costly but necessary part of merchandising. They were especially important for marketing printed cloth as merchants wanted to promote the latest styles—and their savvy clients expected to be offered them. Patterns might be presented in a simple folder with a few samples pasted inside and perhaps some additional promotional material (see, for example, pp. 494–95 and 516–17), or in an elaborate hardcover booklet like those shown here. B. Taylor & Co. and Norbury, Snow & Co. were two Manchester ticket printers that also specialized in pattern cards. Adding the samples to the cards was likely done in the making-up department of the packing house. Fancy pattern booklets required a lot of hand labor. In addition to affixing a label to the cover, the samples had to be cut to size and pasted neatly onto the pages, and as in figs. 2 and 4, set off with gold foil trim to conceal the edges. These sample booklets were given to or ordered by agents in India—whose names were prominently embossed on the covers, making for an impressive presentation to prospective customers. FABRIC SAMPLES
Fig. 1–3, 7. Dhootie cotton cloth, which was used as a long loincloth (dhootie) by Indian men, and cotton fabrics printed specifically for saris were mainstays of Lancashire specialty export textiles. Fig. 4. Roller-printed fabrics such as these were known as “fancy prints.” Figs. 5, 6. B. Whalley, Ashwell was a textile manufacturer based in Manchester. The label of two girls (center right) displayed on the firm's cover was printed by Norbury Natzio & Co., Manchester. Jainy Brothers & Co., an importer of Manchester piece goods, was based in Cawnpore.
introdu c tion
GODS and GODDESSES
of Hindu gods and goddesses provided valuable imagery for the designers of textile labels, who were inspired by the colorful, eye-catching “god-prints” popular in India from the late 19th century onward. As portrayed by Indian artists, the Hindu deities were visually evocative and supremely spiritual—a powerful combination not lost on merchants selling goods in the Indian market. This chapter highlights the gods and goddesses “appropriated” from their lofty positions to be featured on paper labels for the cloth bazaars of India—and beyond. THE VAST PANTHEON
In popular Hindu theology, the three principal gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva together form the Trimurti, or Trinity. Brahma is the Creator; Vishnu, the Preserver; and Shiva, the Destroyer. Through this trio, the cycle of creation, preservation, and destruction continues in perpetuity. is depicted as an old man with a white beard, a red body, and four heads, each of which faces a cardinal direction. He holds various symbolic objects in his four hands, including the four sacred Vedas, as in the opposite label. Having sprung from the navel of Vishnu, Brahma sits on a lotus (see pp. 92–93). As time passed he assumed a secondary position to Vishnu and Shiva. This loss of stature is reflected in the relatively few labels devoted to him. However, his consort, the beloved and worshipped figure of Saraswati, features in many iconic images, including labels. Representing power, intelligence, and all knowledge, especially of the arts and sciences, she is depicted playing a veena as her mount, a peacock or swan, waits nearby. BRAHMA
covered in sacred white ashes, sits on a lotus. He has a third eye in the middle of his forehead and a blue throat. His hair is long and worn coiled on top of his head. The river Ganges, which flows from his hair, is symbolized in the opposite label by four waterpots, two of them spilling their contents over his head. Shiva and his consort, Parvati, the benevolent mother goddess; their children, the elephant-headed Ganesha, remover of obstacles and god of beginnings, and Skanda, god of war; and Parvati’s fierce aspects, dark Kali and Durga, are all illustrated in this chapter. VISHNU ,
the four-armed blue god, who is as infinite as the Heavens, protects and maintains the Universe. He is usually shown holding a discus (emblematic of the mind), conch shell (from which “Om,” the sound of creation, emanates), and mace (strength); he often holds a lotus flower (purity and beauty) in his fourth hand. Vishnu and his beautiful consort, Lakshmi, were favorite label subjects, especially in the forms of their most popular avatars, Krishna and Radha and Rama and Sita. While label artists created countless versions of Krishna/Radha and Rama/Sita, they also included deities such as Yama, god of death; his father, Surya, the sun god; Chandra, the moon god; Agni, the fire god; the monkey god Hanuman; Shashthi, goddesss of childbirth and protector of young children; Ganga, the river goddess; Bahuchara Mata, patron goddess of the Hijra (transgender or intersex) community; and many more. The gods were presented in both iconic “portraits,” which were often framed and hung in homes and temples for worship, and in heroic scenes, where they were shown battling demons and evil kings. Labels and god-prints placed the gods within easy reach, enabling people to choose their own deities—personified in full color. Hindu Trinity. c. 1910. Label, 7½ x 9¾", t. Brahma Vishnu Mahesh (Shiva) Ticket [H], b. same as r. [H]. I Flying Pari with “Om” and Garland. c. 1930. Billhead (detail) from Hanuman Bux Modi, Calcutta, invoice for cotton yarns, 3 x 2" (as shown). I OPPOSITE: ABOVE:
gods and goddesses
RADHA-KRISHNA 1. Radha Krishna Ticket. c. 1900. Label, 9¾ x 8",
r. same as l. [H], b. Radha Shyam Ticket [H]. I 2. Radha-Krishna. c. 1900, 8¾ x 7¼", l. Lyall & Co., Glasgow [H], r. same as l. [M], b. same as t. [B]. I 3. Krishna Anoints Radha’s Foot. c. 1900. 9½ x 7", t. Kadam Lila Ticket [H], r. same as l. [H], b. same as l. [B]. I 4. Krishna Selects Radha as His Favorite Gopi. 1750–51. Udaipur, Mewar Region, Rajasthan, India. Gouache and gold on paper, 9½ x 15¼". PMA
THE GITA GOVINDA (Song of the Cowherd), a lyrical poem by the 12th-century Sanskrit poet Jayadeva,
celebrates the divine and passionate love of Radha-Krishna. Artists over the centuries have painted scenes based on the verses, including Krishna anointing Radha’s feet (figs. 3, 4). Fig. 1. Krishna carries a spear rather than his usual flute. Radha’s and Krishna’s mounts wear elaborately decorated trappings. “Shyam” is another name for Krishna. Fig. 2. It appears that Radha is offering Krishna something to eat. Since by now he has outgrown his childhood craving for butter, perhaps it is another tasty treat. Fig. 3. Krishna pays deference to Radha by painting the soles of her lotus feet with alta (a red dye made from betel leaves). “Kadam” refers to Radha’s foot. The peacock in the foreground and the peacock feathers on the cows’ heads are symbols associated with Krishna. Fig. 4. In this sequence, a group of gopis is gathered; Krishna chooses Radha from among them and carries her away on his shoulders; his footprints leave a trail behind him as he places Radha on a platform under a bower of flowers and anoints her feet with red dye.
gods and goddesses
is an epic tale comprising 24,000 slokas (Sanskrit couplets) said to have been composed in about 500–300 BCE by the Hindu sage and poet Valmiki. Told and retold by countless generations throughout India and beyond, it is the story of Rama, Prince of Ayodhya, who is exiled from the kingdom due to palace intrigue. Joined by his devoted younger brother Lakshmana and beloved wife, Sita, he and his companions wander in the wilderness for fourteen years, encountering sages, battling demons, and restoring dharma. The rishis and wild animals who live there befriend them, and the forest becomes their idyllic home—until Ravana, the evil and powerful demon king of Lanka, disrupts their tranquility. Hearing of Sita’s beauty, he plots to abduct her, and when he succeeds through trickery, carries her off to his island kingdom. The rest of the story tells of Rama’s search for his bride and her ultimate rescue. The journey is long and arduous. Along the way, Rama and his brother encounter the monkey god Hanuman, who offers to help them. Hanuman in turn introduces them to his clan of Vanaras, a race of extraordinary monkeys whose king, Sugriva, agrees to aid in the search. The bear king, Jambavana, and his followers also join them. And so Rama, Lakshmana, and the legions of monkeys and bears set out to find Sita. Eventually they learn where she is held captive and they prepare to confront Ravana. Sita is freed after a fierce battle, but she must undergo a trial by fire to prove her virtue was not compromised by Ravana’s advances and threats. Upon returning to Ayodhya, Rama and Sita are restored to the throne (opposite) only to have Sita’s chastity questioned again. This version of Valmiki’s Ramayana does not end happily. In a later version, the Uttara-Rama-Charita (Later Story of Rama), a Sanskrit play written by Bhavabhuti (fl. c. 700 CE ), Sita gives birth to Rama’s twin sons, Lava and Kusha, and the family lives happily ever after (see p. 206). THE RAMAYANA (JOURNEY OF RAMA)
The Ramayana is a story of good versus evil, of dharma versus adharma, of Rama the “Ideal Man” and Sita the “Ideal Woman.” It offers a spiritual message and provides a model by which to live. As Ramesh Menon writes in the introduction to his book The Ramayana: A Modern Retelling of the Great Indian Epic, “The Ramayana is an expression of a liberal and earthy tradition, one that deals with the realities of greed, lust and power, war and kingship, nobility, tolerance, heroism, and suffering, and with the magnificent, joyful, and tragic inevitability of fate—the human condition.” Throughout the centuries, holy men, temple dancers, bards, itinerant storytellers, scholars, and artists have all done their part in relating the tale of the Ramayana. As did the label designers—albeit with a commercial agenda. They too found their audience and a place for their creations in people’s homes and shops. OPPOSITE : Ram Assembly. c. 1920. Print, 14 x 10" (unframed), b. A. K. Joshi & Co., Ram Panchayatan (Assembly), Kalbadevi Road
Bombay [H]. Ravi Vaibhav F.A.L. Press, Ghatkopar. I Rama sits on the throne with Sita on his lap and the royal umbrella above. Rama’s brothers, Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughna, are behind them. To their left, Hanuman stands with his hands held in devotion. As was often the case, this print was embellished with spangles, likely by its owner for display in the home. ABOVE : Hanuman. c. 1920s–30s. Print (detail), 2½ x 2" (as shown), Mahavir Bajrangbali (another name for Hanuman) [H]. I This image is a detail of fig. 2 on page 197.
1 8 4 the ramayana
SITA IN LANKA 1. Sugriva Sends Hanuman to Find Sita. c. 1820.
Himachal Pradesh, India. Gouache and gold on paper, 8 x 10½". PMA 2. Rama Gives Hanuman His Signet Ring. 1911. Illustration, 6¼ x 5". Artist: Balasaheb Pant Pratinidhi. Chitra Ramayana (Illustrated Ramayana), 1916. I 3. Hanuman Visits Sita in Lanka. c. 1775–1800. Gujarat, India. Gouache and ink on paper, 6½ x 12½". LACMA 4. Hanuman Meets Sita in Ravana’s Garden. c. 1900. Label, 9½ x 7¼", t. Sitaji Pravasan (Sita Journey) [H], r. same as l. [H], b. same as l. [B]. I
from far and wide until a hundred thousand have assembled. He and his army set out in all directions to comb the land in search of Sita. Rama puts his faith in Hanuman. The prince takes his signet ring off his finger and gives it to the monkey god as a sign to Sita that her beloved has sent him. Hanuman joins the legion of monkeys heading south, which is led by Angada, Sugriva’s nephew. After a month of fruitless wandering, the search party comes to the shore of a vast ocean. Unable to advance farther, they fall into despair. The old eagle Sampati, brother of Jatayu, spies them from his tall perch (Sampati can see all). He tells them that Sita is being held captive across the sea in Lanka. But how can they get there? SUGRIVA SUMMONS HIS VANARAS
The Vanaras have been joined by Jambavana and his army of Rikshas (bears). The wise old bear king reminds the dispirited Hanuman, son of the wind god Vayu, of his divine powers. The time has come for the monkey god to shed his doubts and act. Hanuman makes himself enormous, climbs to the top of Mount Mahendra, and launches himself into the air. With his father, Vayu, by his side, he soars across the ocean and lands in Lanka. Now he must rescue Sita . . .
Fig. 1. Hanuman leaves the cave where Sugriva and his Vanaras are living. Fig. 2. Rama gives his signet ring to Hanuman as Sugriva and Lakshmana look on. Fig. 3. Hanuman flies over the ocean to Lanka and finds Sita. Fig. 4. Sita is guarded by a Rakshasi demoness in Ravana’s garden. Hanuman shows Rama’s signet ring to Sita.
(Sanskrit: Maha [Great], Bharata [India]), one of the most important Hindu epics, is the longest poem ever composed. Approximately 100,000 slokas (Sanskrit couplets), it is four times the length of the Ramayana. No firm dates exist for either work as both are rooted in oral tradition, however, most scholars agree that the present form of the Mahabharata was written after that of the Ramayana. According to legend, the sage Vyasa composed the poem, and at the suggestion of Brahma, asked Ganesha to transcribe it. The story centers on a rivalry between two sets of cousins of the ancient Bharata dynasty—the Pandavas, the five sons of King Pandu of Hastinapura, and the Kauravas, the one hundred sons of Dhritarashtra, the blind elder brother of Pandu. After Pandu renounces his throne, Dhritarashtra becomes king and raises the young Pandavas together with his own sons. But the Kauravas, especially the eldest, Duryodhana, envy their cousins, a resentment that smolders into murderous hatred. The Pandavas are forced into a thirteen-year exile that culminates in a horrific battle on the plains of Kurukshetra. The kings of all the clans are called upon to choose sides and send their armies to fight. The war between the Kauravas and the Pandavas rages for only eighteen days, but out of millions of warriors, only a few survive the carnage—and they lose those most dear to them. In this war between kinsmen, kings, princes, Brahmans, and Kshatriyas (warriors), there are no winners. In the end, even the agreed-upon rules of chivalrous warfare break down as both sides are consumed by revenge. THE MAHABHARATA
The main characters in the epic are as follows: Vyasa: sage/poet/composer of the Mahabharata; grandfather of the Pandavas and the Kauravas Narada: immortal sage; son of Brahma; adviser to the Pandavas THE PANDAVA CAMP
Yudhishthira: eldest Pandava brother; rightful heir to the throne of Hastinapura; survives Bhima: second Pandava brother; mighty wielder of the mace; survives Arjuna: third Pandava brother; master archer; survives Sahadeva and Nakula: twin brothers and the youngest of the Pandavas; survive Draupadi: wife to all five Pandava brothers; daughter of King Draupada; survives King Pandu: father of the Pandavas; brother of King Dhritarashtra; dies before the war Queen Kunti: King Pandu’s wife; mother of the Pandava brothers; secret mother of Karna; survives Abhimanyu: sixteen-year-old warrior and son of Arjuna; father of Pariksit; killed by Ashwatthama Krishna: avatar of Vishnu; dear friend and brother-in-law of Arjuna; Pandava ally; survives Dhrishtadyumna: Supreme Commander of the Pandava armies; brother of Draupadi; killed by Karna Pariksit: son of Abhimanyu; grandson of Arjuna; ascends to the throne of Hastinapura; survives as an infant THE KAURAVA CAMP
King Dhritarashtra: blind king of Hastinapura; father of the Kauravas; uncle of the Pandavas; survives Queen Gandhari: King Dhritarashtra’s wife; mother of the Kauravas; sister of Shakuni; survives The Kauravas: the one hundred sons of King Dhritarashtra; cousins of the Pandavas; none survive Duryodhana: the eldest Kaurava brother; main instigator of the war; killed by Bhima Dushasana: brother of Duryodhana; humiliates Draupadi at the dice game; killed by Bhima Karna: powerful warrior ally of the Kauravas; half brother of the Pandavas; killed by Arjuna Drona: martial arts teacher of the Kauravas and the Pandavas; Kaurava ally; killed by Dhrishtadyumna Bhishma: wise teacher of the Pandavas and the Kauravas; Supreme Commander of the Kaurava armies; killed by Arjuna Shakuni: uncle of the Kauravas; uses loaded dice in the dice game with Yudhishthira; killed by Sahadeva Ashwatthama: son of Drona; commander of the sneak night attack on the Pandava camp; survives OPPOSITE : Pandu (Pandava) Ticket. c. 1910. Label, 8 x 6½", l. same as r. [H], t. Pandav Ticket [H], b. Pandu Ticket [M, U]. I
Yudhishthira is on the throne with Draupadi standing next to him. Bhima is on the left, Arjuna is on the right, and the twins, Nakula and Sahadeva, are in front. ABOVE : Bhima. 19th c. Gouache on paper (cropped), approx. 5¾ x 4" (as shown). WL This image is from an album of thirty-six paintings in the Wellcome Library.
2 1 8 the mahabharata
VISHVARUPA 1. Vishvarupa (Virat Swaroop). c. 1920s(?). Print,
14 x 10", b. Anant Shivaji Desai, Virat Swaroop, Moti Bazaar, Bombay [H]. Ravi Udaya Vijay Press, Ghatkopar. I 2. Vishnu-Krishna Manifests His Cosmic Form. Mid-19th c. Rajasthan, India. Gouache and gold on paper, 11½ x 7½". PMA
moral, metaphysical, spiritual, and practical messages have resonated with people worldwide. Mahatma Gandhi expressed that he “found solace in the Bhagavad Gita.” Jawaharlal Nehru related to its “call for action to meet the obligations and duties of life.” Ralph Waldo Emerson called it “the voice of an old intelligence.” And Robert Oppenheimer, who was well-versed in Sanskrit and considered by many to be the father of the atomic bomb, recalled these descriptions of Vishvarupa when he saw the first detonation of a nuclear weapon, “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one. . . . Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” THE BHAGAVAD GITA’S
At the conclusion of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna assumes the cosmic form of Vishvarupa, Vishnu as the Supreme Being. He is enormous and the entire Universe is contained within him. Arjuna can see the past, the present, and the future; all the gods and demons; all of mankind including the two armies about to fight to the death. Vishvarupa is infinite. He is terrifying and magnificent. With his inner conflict resolved, Arjuna prepares to lead his troops into battle . . . Fig. 1. Arjuna sees Krishna as Vishvarupa in his terrible form. Weapons of war are in his infinite hands. Vishnu, Lakshmi, Brahma, and Shiva reside in his chest. Fig. 2. All the creatures of Earth and Heaven are contained in Vishvarupa.
RUDYARD KIPLING WROTE , “Providence
created the Maharajas to offer mankind a spectacle.” And indeed they did—with palaces that rivaled many of the royal residences of Europe in size and opulence, including Buckingham Palace, home of the “Empress of India” herself, Queen Victoria. Images of Indian royalty, whether paintings, prints, or photographs, are replete with depictions of precious jewels, gold, exquisite textiles, and other trappings of extravagent wealth. Even the palace elephants were adorned with jewel-encrusted silver headdresses, embroidered bejeweled caparisons, and gold-tipped tusks. In a royal procession, the ruler would sit in a throne-like howdah atop his most impressive elephant. He was accompanied by brightly attired attendants, while court musicians heralded his approach. Royal women were not on public display. The were usually confined to their quarters, the zenana, where they were kept in strict purdah (seclusion). However, the interiors of the zenana were often resplendent with gilded walls, beautiful frescoes, and intricately carved latticed screens. The rooms were appointed with plush silk and velvet pillows, embroidered hangings, and fine carpets. Walled courtyards contained bubbling fountains and lush gardens. The senior wife lived there along with the other wives, concubines, and female relatives of the ruler—as did thousands of servants, since each woman brought her own personal retinue of retainers with her when she entered the zenana. Over the centuries, purdah and the zenana became an accepted way of life for women in royal households. One year after the start of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Crown took control from the East India Company. India was divided into two parts—British India, which comprised three-fifths of the subcontinent, and the rest, which was made up of more than 560 large and small principalities. By then the Mughal Empire had been defeated, and its scattered kingdoms were controlled mainly by various Hindu and Sikh maharajas and rajas, one Muslim nizam, and one Muslim begum. (The last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was exiled in 1858.) These rulers retained a certain amount of autonomy, but ultimately kings were reduced to “princes and native chiefs,” with their former kingdoms deemed “Princely States,” and they owed their allegiance to the Queen-Empress, or King-Emperor. Rank was in part defined by the number of gun salutes granted on formal occasions. Compared to the King-Emperor, who received 101 guns, and the British Viceroy, who received 31, each of the five highest-ranking Indian rulers received a full 21, followed by 19 on down to 9. This hierarchy devised by the British did not sit well with those in the lower orders of gun salutes. By the time India gained independence in 1947, the golden age of the maharajas was over. But the illustrations in this chapter attest to the rich inspiration they provided to the designers of textile labels. And how better to promote one’s product than to show it as fit for a king—or maharaja! OPPOSITE : Four Noblemen. c. 1910–20. Label, 6 x 4¾". I
ABOVE : Maharaja. c. 1910–15. Die-cut label, diam. 5". NNMC /E
This maharaja wears a robe and turban trimmed with pearls and a jeweled-and-feathered aigrette.
2 4 6 indian royalty
ROYAL WOMEN 1. Rani Lakshmibai. c. 1900. Label, 5 x 4½", l. Graham
& Co. [G], r. same as l. [B]. I
2. Royal Lady on Terrace. c. 1900. Label, 4¾ x 3½",
l. same as t. [B], r. same as t. [H], b. [M(?)]. I
3. Mughal Begum. c. 1900. Label, 4½ x 3½". I 4. Royal Woman. c. 1900. Label, 5 x 3¾". I
5. Maharani Gaddi. c. 1910. 7 x 5¾", l. Birkmyre
Brothers, Calcutta [H], r. same as l. [M], b. same as l. [B]. I
(1828–1858) of the Maratha kingdom of Jhansi was both a ruler and a warrior. Well educated and independent in spirit, Lakshmibai married the Maharaja of Jhansi in 1842. When he died in 1853 with only a young adopted son as heir, the British annexed his Princely State using the “doctrine of lapse” policy. Seven months after the Indian Rebellion of 1857 began, Rani Lakshmibai and her troops defied the British order to surrender the city. She led her warriors against a brutal siege, but was overwhelmed. According to legend, upon their defeat, she strapped her young son to her back, and astride her horse, leapt from the battlement wall to join rebel forces fighting elsewhere. Three months later, she was killed in a battle with the British near the city of Gwalior. RANI LAKSHMIBAI
Fig. 1. Rani Lakshmibai depicted as a warrior queen on her white stallion. Figs. 2–4. Three royal ladies. The begum in fig. 3 wears a Mughal headdress. The graphic quality in fig. 4 imparts a poster-like quality. Fig. 5. The Maharani sits on her gaddi (throne cushion) being entertained while two attendants hold peacock chauris.
indian royalty 2 4 7
THE BRITISH RAJ
ship docked in the busy port city of Surat on the west coast of India in 1608, the land in the north was ruled by the Mughal Empire and the south was under the control of various Muslim and Hindu sovereigns. The Portuguese and the Dutch had already established trading routes and hubs, and the French followed in 1664. But by the early 18th century, England’s combative East India Company was firmly entrenched in Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta to the detriment of the Portuguese and Dutch. With the death of Emperor Aurangzeb (1618–1707), the Mughal Empire was in decline, and the British and French seized the chance to expand their political and commercial fortunes. The two fought each other and the Indian nawabs, whose territories they sought to control. Ultimately the British, under Robert Clive (1725–1774), emerged victorious, and by 1764, the Company had become far more than a trading concern—it was now a powerful entity that governed, collected revenue, and maintained its own army. The British Crown took serious notice and, in 1792, appointed Richard Colley Wellesley (1760–1842) as first Governor-General of India. (Lord Louis Mountbatten [1900–1979] served as the last Viceroy of British India.) Wellesley implemented an aggressive policy of warfare and annexation that enabled the East India Company to become the paramount power in India with one of the largest armies in the world. The Westernization of India had begun. WHEN THE FIRST EAST INDIA COMPANY
By 1857 growing anger against the British and their lack of respect for Indian beliefs and customs culminated in a violent uprising. Sepoy troops (Indian soldiers serving in the Company’s armies) turned on their units and were soon joined by other Indians and a few rulers. The British responded with brutal force, and massacres took place on both sides. A year of turmoil passed before the English once again gained control. It was then that the Government of India Act transferred rule of India from the East India Company (including its possessions and armies) to the British Crown—where it would remain for eighty-nine more years as the British Raj. Queen Victoria and Her Family. Late 19th c. Label, 11½ x 8½", t. Sir Armitage and Sons, Limited (?) [U], b. Her Great Imperial Queen Victoria, Kaiser of India [U]. I Queen Victoria (1819–1901) had been on the British throne for twenty years when the rebellion occurred. In 1877 she was proclaimed “Empress of India,” and an Imperial Durbar was held in Delhi in her honor (see pp. 276–79). Victoria would reign as Queen-Empress until her death in 1901. Four of her descendents would rule as King-Emperor until India gained independence in 1947. This image was probably based on a photograph taken by Alexander Bassano (1829–1913) on the occasion of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. She is wearing her favorite diamond necklace and a cameo brooch of Prince Albert (1819–1861). ABOVE: Britannia. c. 1930s(?). Dye label (detail), 3½ x 2½" (as shown). P. Ramratan Radhakisan (merchant), Amritsar. I Britannia, the female warrior personification of Britain, is usually depicted wearing a Roman toga-like robe and a Corinthian helmet. She holds a shield and a trident (the weapon of Neptune, god of the sea). The lion, representing Great Britain, stands with its paw resting in a commanding position on top of the world. OPPOSITE:
2 9 4 the british raj
DELHI DURBAR OF 1911 1. Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary.
c. 1911. Label, 6½ x 5". BTMC /I
2. George V, King-Emperor of India. c. 1911.
Label, 10 x 7¾". NSMC /E
3. Queen Mary, Queen-Empress of India. c. 1911.
Label, 10 x 7¾". NSMC /E
4. Imperial Delhi Durbar. c. 1911. Print, 19¼ x 26".
Published by A. Vivian Mansell & Co., London.
THE DELHI DURBAR OF 1911 ,
held to commemorate the coronation of George V and Mary of Teck, marked the first time a British king and queen attended their own durbar. On December 7, 1911, the King-Emperor made his state entry on horseback into Delhi. World events would make this the last Imperial Durbar. “Durbar” is a Mughal word meaning “reception” or “court.” The Delhi Durbar of 1911 was held in the same location as the previous two durbars and, like them, was a grand affair—although not quite so grand as the 1903 durbar, which featured splendidly caparisoned elephants. (For 1911, the majestic beasts were replaced with motor cars.) The Viceroy of India, Charles Hardinge (1858–1944), presided over the celebration, which was attended by most of the 600 ruling princes, chiefs, and noblemen of India, along with their retinues of tens of thousands of retainers and troops. Indeed, 250,000 people could be accommodated in what was a vast, tented city of 25 square miles. King George’s camp alone, landscaped with rose bushes and lawns, covered 85 acres. On December 12, in the durbar shamiana (ceremonial
the british raj 2 9 5
And beyond these ranks of scarlet and blue and yellow and khaki lay the vast ring of the peoples, . . . a great assembly gathered together from every part of India. . . . The huge mass of spectators stood silent and awestruck, gazing at the two resplendent figures beneath the golden dome. —HON. JOHN FORTESCUE, NARRATIVE OF THE VISIT TO INDIA OF THEIR MAJESTIES KING GEORGE V AND QUEEN MARY, 1912
tent), the King and Queen received homage from the native princes. And it was here that the King announced the revocation of Lord Curzon’s widely unpopular 1905 Partition of Bengal as well as the transfer of British India’s capital from Calcutta to Delhi. On the following day, the royal couple adopted a Mughal emperor’s ritual—the darshan (blessing received in the viewing of an eminent person or image of a deity)—appearing in full regalia on the marble balcony of the Red Fort overlooking the great plain where the People’s Fete, an imposing national festival, took place. Throngs filed by to view the royal couple and pay their respects. On December 14, the King and Queen reviewed a four-mile procession of 50,000 British and Indian troops, before leaving two days later for Nepal. Once again, the durbar meant to show Britain’s imperial rule to the world, to her citizens back home, and especially to the Indian people. Fig. 1. King George V and Queen Mary in their coronation robes. Figs. 2, 3. The King and Queen honored by their Indian subjects. Fig. 4. The King and Queen on their thrones in full regalia at Coronation Park. Viceroy Hardinge stands to the left of King George V. This illustration appears to be an artist’s composite—the ruling princes were not on the dais with the royal couple.
A TEXTILE LABEL made for export needed to meet certain criteria. Since it would serve as the brand, or trademark, of
the cloth manufacturer or its agent, it had to be exclusive. It also had to catch the eye of a prospective customer in what was a bustling marketplace. At any given time, hundreds of merchants and agents, both European and Indian, were competing to sell their goods in the Indian market, with each usually offering a large variety of textiles. Every product required a distinctive identifying trademark (chaap), resulting in thousands of different labels being sent to India each year. Firms zealously guarded their designs. Many of the labels in this book bear the words “copyright” and/or “registered.” Beginning in 1876, companies could register their label designs in the London Patent Office, which published them in the weekly Trade Marks Journal (see pp. 17; 436, fig. 3; and 442, fig. 2). Indian court records of the 19th and early 20th centuries contain many lawsuits by textile firms claiming copyright infringement of their label designs. As the decades passed, it became more and more difficult for label designers to come up with original, commercially successful imagery. The pantheon of Hindu gods was vast, as was the range of characters and stories in the great Sanskrit epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, but there were only so many ways one could uniquely depict a particular deity or battle scene. Other subjects, such as the English royal family and World War I were relevant mainly in their time. While there was always an audience for gods and goddesses, companies needed to appeal to a wide and diverse market. Quotidian scenes such as those shown in this chapter were an endless source of inspiration to label artists—and the majority of Indian people shopping for cloth in the bazaars could identify with them. To an illiterate customer, the words “John Orr Ewing & Co.” or “Anderson Wright & Co.” likely meant nothing. However an image of a fisherwoman with her catch on her head was easily remembered. The next time that customer wanted to buy more of the same cloth, they could ask for the “fisherwoman” label, and the bazaar merchant would know just whose cloth and brand it was—that of John Orr Ewing & Co. (see p. 313, fig. 7). OPPOSITE : Townspeople. c. 1910. Label, 6½ x 4¾". NSMC /E
“There is such a lot of everything. I have never seen so many people mixed up with oxen, mangy dogs, crows and beggars . . . jingling victorias and bullock carts and parrots shooting across the road over your head, black crows squawking. People. People. People.” Rosamund Lawrence, quoted in Women of the Raj: The Mothers, Wives, and Daughters of the British Empire in India by Margaret MacMillan, 2007. ABOVE : Cloth Seller. 19th c. India. Gouache on paper, approx. 5 x 7¾". WL This is perhaps a “Company” painting produced by an Indian artist for European customers.
3 1 8 everyday li f e
VILLAGE AND CITY LIFE 1. Milking the Cow. c. 1920s(?). Label, 8 x 5½",
t. same as b. [H], r. same as l. [H]. I
2. Sugarcane Mill. c. 1910. Die-cut label, 4½ x 3½".
3. Man with Bullocks. c. 1910. Label, 5¼ x 3¾". BTM /I 4. Telegraph Talk. c. 1910. Label, 5 x 4¼". I
5. Irrigation. c. 1910. Label, 6 x 4½". Printed by S. J. B. S. I 6. Construction Workers. c. 1910–24. Label, 4 x 5½".
Pasted on 20 yds. of English nainsook stamped “Kettlewell Bullen & Co., 15 JUL. 1924 ." I 7. Cook. c. 1910. Label, 6½ x 4 ¾". NSMC /E 8. Water Carriers. c. 1910–22. Label, 7¾ x 5¼". Pasted on 40 yds. of English nainsook stamped “Kettlewell Bullen & Co., 12 APR. 1922 .” NNM /I
glimpses into the lives of ordinary Indian people going about everyday activities—from a village woman milking the family’s cow to a cook in a neighborhood eating place. The two barefoot children with their ears pressed against a telegraph pole listening to sound vibrations could be two kids anywhere. THESE LABELS PROVIDE
Figs. 6 and 8 were probably first printed around 1910, but they remained available until at least the 1920s. Both were pasted on an imported, finely woven, lightweight, white cotton cloth called “nainsook,” along with the agent’s stamp and the date. Figs. 1–5. Scenes of rural life. A bullock turns the sugar mill, and men use foot power to draw water from the stream into their fields. The initials “S. J. B. S.” stand for “Sir Jacob Behrens & Sons” (see p. 296). Fig. 6. The man in the center uses a pneumatic drill powered by compressed air. This type of drill was developed in the mid-1850s. Fig. 7. One can almost smell the the food cooking. Fig. 8. Water vendors provide a welcome drink.
everyday li f e
ENTERTAINMENT and CELEBRATIONS
NAUTCH GIRLS, ACROBATS ,
snake charmers, and musicians were an abundant source of inspiration to the designers of textile labels. These subjects lent a touch of the exotic, or hint of erotic pleasures—perhaps a deadly cobra slowly swaying to the motion of a flute, or graceful dancing girls performing for the enjoyment of a raja and his guests. While in real life the professional nautch girls, as they were called, provided pleasure for the elite, their images on paper labels were available to all—and judging from how many were produced, very popular indeed. Textile labels not only depict the amusements of the rich and powerful, but those of ordinary folk as well. Traveling troupes of street performers entertained with dancing bears and monkeys, jugglers, magicians, puppet shows, and all kinds of daredevil acts. Kite festivals drew throngs of people, and individuals with fighter kites (patang) would engage in rooftop duels. Villagers played a game called chaupar, which is similar to Parcheesi but played with cowrie shells instead of dice. Celebrations such as Holi (Festival of Spring and Colors), Diwali (Festival of Lights), and many other special occasions were featured on labels. Royal processions presented artists with rich tableaux of caparisoned elephants, musicians, and attendants in colorful costume. A maharaja might be celebrating the wedding of his daughter, or the arrival of an important dignitary, to the delight of the thousands of people lining his way. The British living in India had their own forms of entertainment. There were endless dances—from afternoon tea dances held by the better hotels and clubs to the grand official balls hosted by the Viceroy at Government House. Amateur theater performances took place in stations all over India—until the cinema became more popular. And, of course, there were the private clubs that offered cricket, tennis, badminton, golf, and polo. The British brought their homeland customs with them to India and, as a result, seldom experienced firsthand the local culture surrounding them. OPPOSITE :Nautch Girl. c. 1910. Label, 6¾ x 5¼". NNMC /E
A dancing girl accompanied by a musician with a hand drum (dholak). ABOVE : Two Musicians. 19th c. India. Gouache on paper, approx. 3 x 3". WL This is perhaps a “Company” painting produced by an Indian artist for European customers.
3 5 6 entertainment and c elebrations
KITE FESTIVAL 1. A Kite Flying Festival. 19th c.(?). India. Gouache on
paper, 7½ x 9". WL
2. Krishna and Radha Flying Kites. 19th c.(?). India.
Gouache on paper, 9 x 7¼". WL
3. Three Kites Trade Mark. c. 1910. Label, 4¼ x 5½",
l. same as t. [B], r. same as t. [U], b. same as t. [H, B], inside: Ralli Brothers, 3 Kites Trade Mark [G]. I 4. Kite Seller Trade Mark. c. 1910. Label, 7 x 5½", l. same as b. [H, G], r. same as b. [U, B]. I
KITE FLYING has been popular in India for many centuries. Even Radha and Krishna found it to be an
amusing pastime (fig. 2). An important Indian celebration is Makar Sankranti, which is held in January to mark the winter solstice and honor the sun god, Surya. This joyous festival features many social events, kite flying among them. Traditional Indian kite forms include the tailless patang (fighting kite), whose strings are covered in a mixture of glue and ground glass. In kite fighting, competitors attack each other’s patangs using the keen cutting edges of their own lines to sever those of their opponents. The last kite still flying—or not adrift—is the winner. Bangladesh celebrates this time of year with its traditional Shakrain Festival featuring colorful kites. In Gujarat, an international kite festival called Uttarayan, which coincides with Makar Sankranti, has become a very popular event. Fig. 1. These men might be participating in the solstice celebration. Fig. 2. Radha and Krishna flying traditional tukkal (lantern) kites. Fig. 3. Tukkal kites are most popular in Pakistan and Northern India. These kites were used to lift paper lanterns tied to their strings. Fig. 4. Distinctive-shaped tukkal kites can be seen hanging behind the kite maker in this label, which was copied from Pattangh-Walla (Patang Seller), an engraving in Travels in India, including Sinde and the Punjab by Captain Leopold von Orlich (1845).
entertainment and c elebrations
FLORA and FAUNA
FLOWERS, ANIMALS, AND BIRDS provided endless subject matter for the designers of textile labels. For the Indian
market, there were the usual (and not so usual) tigers, lions, elephants, camels, peacocks, parrots, and cobras, as well as the more familiar cows, bullocks, horses, sheep, and deer. Occasionally a crocodile, lizard, cheetah, bear, or even a walrus would make an appearance. Except for butterflies, insects were seldom represented, although a rare praying mantis label was used by one of the large trading companies (p. 415, fig. 3). Over time, so many elephants and tigers (and lions to a lesser extent) had been chosen as trademarks that it became more and more difficult for label designers to come up with animal images that didn’t violate an existing copyright. Since a realistic tiger or elephant, devoid of any backdrop, would have already been registered, the obvious solution was something more imaginative—like a turbaned elephant riding a tricycle (p. 397, fig. 2) or a regal lion in a gold crown and ermine-trimmed scarlet cape evoking King Edward VII (p. 395, fig. 4). Birds were a favorite subject of both label designers and customers. Though parrots and peacocks were especially popular, owls, swallows, chickens, swans, and a variety of songbirds are also depicted. Parrots and peacocks have special meaning for Indian people—the peacock is associated with Krishna (and the monsoon rains) while the parrot is a symbol of love. Both have long been referenced in Indian art and mythology. The flowers used in label designs tend to be the common garden varieties—roses, mums, forget-me-nots, and lilies— with roses being by far the most popular. They are usually shown arranged in pretty bouquets or vases. Small, round, die-cut floral labels were often pasted to pieces of cloth as secondary labels (see p. 388). They cost less than the larger tickets and provided additional incentive for customers to select one company’s brand over another. Fruit is a less common motif and usually consists of grapes, berries, and cherries, among other delicacies, and is often shown spilling out of a basket. Pairing fruit and roses with the portrait of a camel (opposite) makes for an unexpected image. Vegetables are hardly ever seen, save for the tomatoes and bamboo shoots on page 393. It seems that cabbages, turnips, and leafy greens just didn’t have the eye or taste appeal to make their way onto a company’s label. OPPOSITE : Camel Portrait. c. 1910–20s. Label, 7 x 5¼". JS -NSMC /E
This label is in a catalog of stock tickets that belonged to Norbury, Snow & Co., Manchester. Another example was found in India, pasted on a 20-yard piece of plain English nainsook stamped “Kettlewell Bullen & Co., 12 FEB 1923 .” ABOVE : Roaring Tiger. c. 1910. Label (detail), diam. 6½" (as shown). NSMC /E This fierce tiger is the centerpiece of a label measuring 10 x 7½". Placed against a rich red background, it must have been quite striking.
4 1 2 f lora and fauna
PARROTS 1. Parrot with Nut. c. 1910. Label, 9¾ x 7¼". NSMC /E 2. Parrot. c. 1910. 5½ x 4½". NNMC /E
3. Scarlet Macaw. Late 19th c. Label, 9½ x 8",
b. [illegible]. I
4. Two Parrots. c. 1910. Label, 6 x 4". W.P.S. /E
5. Small Green Parrot. Late 19th c. Label (detail),
1½ x 1" (as shown). I. This label is shown in full on page 477. 6. Parrotand Scrollwork. c. 1910. Label, 6 x 4". NNMC /E
THE BEAUTY OF PARROTS , their intelligence, social nature, and of course ability to talk, have long been
reflected in Indian art, religion, mythology, folk tales, and literature. The Hindu god of love and desire, Kamadeva, rides a green parrot named Suka. Around the 12th century, a collection of short stories called the Suka-saptati (Seventy Tales of the Parrot) was composed. Originally written in Sanskrit, it revolves around a merchant, his wife, and their pet parrot. Each night while the husband is away on business, the parrot tells the wife a story in order to dissuade her from keeping a rendezvous with her lover. The clever parrot gains the woman’s trust and, using its wit and erotic tales, keeps her home until her husband returns. The Suka-saptati has been translated into many languages. Figs. 1–6. Generally speaking, trade label designers tried to be fairly accurate with their images, whether they were depicting scenes of Indian everyday life, episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, or birds and animals. Just the same, sometimes an exotic nonnative bird would wind up in India, like the scarlet macaw in fig. 3, or the toucans on pages 406 and 410.
f lora and fauna
often drew on the vast pantheon of Hindu gods and goddesses. However, this subject was rivaled in popularity by the “beauties” known in the trade as “lady tickets.” Depictions of attractive, fair-skinned English women were sent in a continuous parade from Great Britain to India, where they graced the labels pasted on individual pieces of cloth sold by merchants in the bazaars as well as on the covers of salesmen’s sample booklets. Their countenances ranged from sweetly demure to outright seductive. One could choose the pretty blonde playfully peeking out from behind her masquerade mask (p. 425, fig. 3) or maybe the virginal flower maiden with her sheer frock and bared breast (p. 425, fig. 6). And there was even Lady Godiva in full nudity upon her white horse (p. 426). Occasionally a black-haired beauty with an exotic air about her, perhaps a Spanish dancer, would make an appearance. But she was “respectable,” unlike the bawdy dance-hall performer (p. 427). The label beauties were dressed and styled in the fashions of their period. Ladies from the 1920s had bobbed hair, cloche hats, fur boas, and chiffon dresses, while those from the Edwardian and late Victorian periods were elegantly accessorized in fine jewelry and elaborate bonnets. Though not necessarily flirtatious, the latter are nearly always romantic. Most “lady tickets” are quite realistic—in fact, many appear to be drawn from actual photographs. Each beauty has her own personality, which becomes evident as she looks out from her paper label. TRADE LABEL IMAGERY
Indian beauties were also depicted on trade labels. English designers tended to show them as sari-clad ladies in romanticized settings—such as a moonlit palace garden (p. 420), or the zenana of a maharaja (p. 245, fig. 2). Sometimes they could be coy—like the woman with a fan (p. 418), or the girl hugging a tiger cub (p. 422, fig. 3). But usually, they were not as sensualized as their English counterparts. Figs. 1, 2, 4, and 6, on pages 422 and 423 show four women, each radiating a natural beauty without being overtly seductive. However, there was nonetheless a place for fantasy ladies, both Indian and English (see pp. 428–29). Cobra lady sits on a flaming serpent throne, while another Indian beauty emerges alluringly from a bed of feathers. Three English beauties take the forms of a dancing rose, a winged butterfly, and a carp goddess of sorts. “Lady tickets” offered something for everyone. These labels were designed to appeal to men in a provocative way, but Indian women were also attracted to them for other reasons. They were intrigued by the English ladies, just as the English found images of Indian nautch girls and ladies of the harem fascinating—each “exotic” to their respective audience. As art historian Jyotindra Jain writes, “As the return journey of the magic carpet from Britain brought along with its cargo of textiles and piece-goods a bevy of exotic, sultry, amorous and salacious white girls appearing on their product labels, they in turn began to shape the social values of urban Indians in various ways. . . . The colony seems to have reciprocated the colonist’s gaze.” (Marg magazine, March–June 2017) OPPOSITE : Beauties. c. 1920s. Label, 6½ x 5". BTM /I
Two lovely Indian ladies flank portraits of an English lady in a Tudor Rose frame, an Indian beauty inside a lotus leaf, and a Scottish girl surrounded by thistles. Stylistically, this transitional label features an Art Nouveau main image and Art Deco border motifs. ABOVE : Dark-Haired Beauty. c. 1910–23. Die-cut label and pre-stamped gold frame, diam. 8". Pasted on English nainsook stamped “Kettlewell Bullen & Co., 29 JAN. 1923 .” I
4 2 8 beauties
FANTASY LADIES 1. Rose Lady. c. 1910. Label, 8 x 6¼". NSMC /E 2. Carp Lady. c. 1910. Die-cut label, 6¾ x 5¼".
3. Cobra Lady. c. 1910. Die-cut label, 10½ x 8".
4. Butterfly Lady. c. 1910. Die-cut label, 7¼ x 4".
A DEPARTURE FROM the usual English lady tickets, many of which border on the insipid, these labels
spice things up with wild flights of fantasy. Rose lady appears sweet enough, but beware of her thorns. As for cobra lady, she is a force to be reckoned with. Like the Hindu god Vishnu, she sits on the coils of a giant serpent, protected by its venom and outstretched hood. Flames radiate around her as she lifts her dupatta (shawl) and looks boldly out at the world. Fig. 1. This label, produced for, and confined to, one client, is known as a “Private Ticket.” The design could well have been provided by the customer. Fig. 2. The treatment of the carp imparts an Art Nouveau or Japonesque feeling. In keeping with the marine-life theme, the lady holds a scallop shell fan. Fig. 3. As a creature both revered and feared, the cobra (naga) is rich with symbolism in Indian culture. Fig. 4. Butterfly lady has exchanged her cape for the wings of a swallowtail. Seemingly about to take flight, she sports other butterflies on her sash, bodice, and headdress.
beauties 4 2 9
of the internal combustion engine in the mid-1800s, automobiles and planes began to appear in India during the early 1900s. The label on the opposite page visually conveys that India was now very much a 20th-century country. There are automobiles and bicycles, monoplanes and biplanes, and even blimps! In reality, this street would also have been bustling with bullock-drawn carts loaded with produce; bearers with palanquins carrying British sahibs; two-horse carriages for the well-to-do; ekhas (light, two-wheeled one-horse buggies); British cavalrymen on horseback; camel caravans; and a motley assortment of tradesmen, water carriers, beggars, ascetics, and other folk making their way on foot along the dusty road. More likely, the only things overhead would have been birds and perhaps some kites flown from nearby rooftops. WITH THE ADVENT
Before the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, it could take as long as six months under sail—three at the shortest—to reach India from England by way of the Cape of Good Hope. It then could take more months of overland travel to reach one’s final destination. By the 1830s, the development of the steam engine—and the Red Sea route that entailed crossing the Mediterranean and traveling overland to Egypt, where in Suez, one caught a small steamship bound for Bombay—enabled passengers to make the journey by steam and sail from England to Bombay in about two months. With the opening of the Suez Canal, the trip was shortened to four weeks. By the early 1900s, powerful steamers could make the journey in two weeks. The famed P & O (Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company) carried passengers and mail, while other shipping companies transported cargo. The heavy bales that contained cotton goods—along with their colorful labels—would have traveled on cargo steamers to the docks of Bombay and Calcutta, where they were delivered into the hands of some of the very agents whose names appear on the labels—Finlay Muir, Graham, Hoare Miller, etc. From there, they might continue their journey “up country” by bullock cart, riverboat, and/or rail—ultimately winding up in markets throughout India. OPPOSITE : Modes of Transport. c. 1910. Label, 5½ x 4¼". K. (Kronheim[?]) & Co. NNMC /I
It looks as if an air show is taking place—and perhaps it was. The first air shows were held around 1910, and by World War I, they had become popular international events. ABOVE : Clipper Ship. c. 1910–20s. Die-cut label, 5½ x 3¾". E First used in 1888, this image was registered in the Trade Marks Journal in 1926 by the Calico Printers’ Association, Manchester (see p. 436, figs. 1, 3).
4 4 6 transport
TRANSPORT OF ANOTHER KIND 1. Lotus Travel. c. 1910–22. Label, 7½ x 5½".
Pasted on 40 yds. of English white shirting stamped “Kettlewell Bullen & Co., 12 APR 1922 .” NNMC /I 2. Ariel Trade Mark. Late 19th c. Label, 3¾ x 5". I 3. Eagle Machine. c. 1920s. Dye label, 4½ x 3½". I 4. Fairies. c. 1910. Label, 5½ x 6¾", l. same as t. and b. [G], r. same as l. [B], t. [Burmese]. I 5. Bullock and Tiger Cart. c. 1910. Label, 9¾ x 7½". JS-NSMC /E
BEFORE THERE WERE AIRPLANES ,
one could travel through the sky on the the back of a bat, like Shakespeare’s Ariel does in fig. 2—or snuggly nestled inside a gigantic lotus flower (fig. 1). If fairies wanted to fly faster than their delicate wings could carry them, there were butterflies and eagles, or a four-horse celestial chariot (fig. 4). For the human would-be aviator, there was the fantastic “Eagle Machine” shown in fig. 3. All one needed was a wooden barrel, four wheels for landing gear, a grappling hook, an eagle, and a dead rat. Fig. 1. The lotus is associated with the divine, with immortality and enlightment, but seldom flight. Fig. 2. In act 5 of Shakepeare’s The Tempest, the spirit Ariel says, “Where the bee sucks, there suck I: / In a cowslip’s bell I lie; / There I couch when owls do cry. / On the bat’s back I do fly.” This label is taken from an 1826 painting titled Ariel by Joseph Severn (1793–1879). Fig. 3. Securely fitting shoes are also needed. Fig. 4. Labels for use in Southeast Asia often bear fanciful images, such as this one. Fig. 5. Elephants part the curtains for this bold lady as she drives her bullock and tiger cart right out of the label. Queen Victoria hovers above.
transport 4 4 7
INDIAN COTTON MILLS
cotton mill was established in 1854 by Cowasjee Nanabhoy Davar (1815–1873) in Tardeo, Bombay. Named the Bombay Spinning and Weaving Company, the firm began production a year and a half later with machinery imported from England. Supervised by British engineers, it did well enough to encourage other Indian businessmen to set up their own cotton mills. By 1875 there were twenty-two cotton mills in Bombay, and by 1915, there were eighty-three. By the beginning of the 20th century, cotton textile manufacturing was the largest factory-based industry in India. Until then, most mills were only spinning yarn as that process was cheaper and easier to set up and operate than weaving cloth. However, in 1905–6, a stong demand for cloth from the Chinese market, coupled with competition from Japanese yarn spinners, prompted Indian millowners to begin installing looms in their factories. By March 1916, more than half of India’s 266 mills were operating both spindles and looms, which together produced approximately 1.45 billion yards of cotton cloth annually—most of it unbleached shirtings and longcloth. In that same year, India exported 67.2 million yards of piece goods to its principal markets—the largest being the Straits Settlements, Aden, Ceylon, and Persia, in that order. THE FIRST INDIAN-OWNED
As the 20th century progressed, many factors contributed to the rise of Indian textile mills and the decline of Lancashire mills. World War I (1914–18) was a major blow to the British textile industry, crippling not only its mills’ production, but their ability to export as well. However, Indian mills were positioned to take advantage of the demand for piece goods and yarn from markets that England had controlled before the war. In fact, the two years following the outbreak of the war were the best years that the Indian mills had ever seen. British mills never fully recovered to prewar levels of trade, while Indian mills continued to expand. The Indian nationalist Swadeshi movement and its subsequent boycotts fueled a large domestic market for locally made goods—at the expense of English manufacturers already hurt by World War I. While Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) promoted homespun khadi, he did not discourage the consumption of factory-made cloth, provided it was produced by Indian-owned mills. Fortunes were made by many of India’s mill-owning families, including the Tatas, Birlas, Petits, Lalbhais, Gagalbhais, Wadias, Sarabhais, Currimbhoys, and Sassoons. Indian mills were now challenging their British counterparts, with Bombay and Ahmedabad the largest centers of production of cloth and yarn. However, by the 1930s, Japan had become a major player in the global textile trade to the extent that its volume of textile exports surpassed that of Lancashire. This competition seriously cut into the Indian mills’ share of sales both at home and overseas—as did World War II (1939–45). Most of the textile mills in India were composite mills, where all of the processes of textile production—spinning, weaving, dyeing, and finishing—were done under one roof. After the war, the advent of small power looms that could be operated from a single room contributed to the outsourcing of all stages of production. This decentralization, combined with the higher cost of capital, lack of modernization, longterm strikes by workers, and mismanagement, among other factors, combined to cause the decline of many of India’s established cotton mills. The great Bombay textile strike in 1982, when some 250,000 workers from more than fifty mills walked out for a year and a half, was the final blow to an already struggling industry. More than eighty mills soon closed. Most of the defunct and so-called sick mills, and the valuable land they occupied, were taken over by the Indian government under the Sick Textile Undertakings (Nationalization) Act of 1974. Some mills were reorganized and kept running, many were sold to developers, and still others were abandoned and now sit in various states of decay. A few have been restored and preserved as historical landmarks of Bombay’s once vibrant textile industry. All that remain of most of these mills are the paper labels shown in this chapter—their colorful trademarks, their “chaaps.” OPPOSITE : The Arvind Mills, Ltd. c. 1930s. Label, 6½ x 5", r. same as l. [H]. I
The Arvind Mills, Ltd., was established in 1931 in Ahmedabad by the Kasturbhai Lalbhai family. ABOVE : The Swadeshi Mills Co., Ltd. c. 1920s–30s. Die-cut label, 3¼ x 4". I This mill was bought by Jamsetji Tata in 1886 (see p. 519, fig. 3 for larger image).
5 0 0 indian c otton mills
INDIAN MILLS (AHMEDABAD) 1. The Madhavlal Mill. c. 1920s-30s. Label, 10 x 7",
r. Goods made in India [G], b. Vandevi (Forest Goddess). Ravi Varma Press, Karla-Lonavla. I 2. The Maneklal Harilal Spg. & Mfg. Co., Ltd. c. 1920s–30s. Label, 9½ x 7", r. same as l. [H], b. Rajadhiraj (King of Kings, Emperor) [H]. I
ONCE CALLED THE “MANCHESTER OF INDIA ,”
Ahmedabad came to rival Bombay as a center of cotton textile production. In 1861, with machinery imported from Great Britain, social activist Ranchhodlal Chhotalal (1823–1898) established the first textile mill in Ahmedabad. Named the Ahmedabad Spinning and Weaving Company, this pioneering mill began production with 65 workers and 2500 spindles. Encouraged by Chhotalal’s success, other entrepreneurs followed suit. From 1891 to 1905, the number of mills grew to thirty-two. By 1916 there were approximately sixty, and by 1941, seventy-five. Some of Ahmedabad’s textile magnates, in particular Ambalal Sarabhai (1890–1967), supported the Swadeshi movement and encouraged other millowners to do the same. In fact, Sarabhai
indian c otton mills 3. The Rajnagar Spg., Wvg. & Mfg. Co., Ltd. 1920s.
Label, 10 x 8", b. Radha-Krishna [H]. I 4. The Aryodaya Spg. & Wvg. Co., Ltd. c. 1920s–30s. Die-cut label, 6 x 4", l. Mangaldas and Balabha & Co. [H], t. Beauty on the Lake [H], inside: Pure Swadeshi [H], r. [U]. I 5. Marsden Mills. c. 1920s–30s. Label, 9¼ x 7¼". I 6. The Sarangpur Cotton Mfg. Co., Ltd. c. 1920s. Label, 9 x 7¼", r. same as l. [H], b. Laxmi Gram (Village) [H, G]. I
was an admirer of Mahatma Gandhi and helped finance Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram, which was set up on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in 1917. However, by the mid-1960s, increasing fragmentation of the textile industry, stiff foreign competition, and a host of other factors similar to those that contributed to the downfall of Bombay’s cotton mills, affected the Ahmedabad Mills. Figs. 1–4, 6. All Indian-owned cotton-spinning and weaving mills. Fig. 5. Founded by two weaving masters, brothers Ben and Charles Marsden, the Marsden Mill (est. 1920) and the Monogram Mill (est. 1927) were the only mills in Ahmedabad controlled by Englishmen. In the 1950s, the brothers sold their interests to an Indian financier.
SWARAJ and SWADESHI A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history. —MAHATMA GANDHI, HARIJAN, NOVEMBER 19, 1938
(Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1869–1948) made “Swaraj” and “Swadeshi” the rallying cries of India’s Independence movement. “Swaraj” means “self-rule,” and “Swadeshi,” “of one’s own country.” The Swadeshi movement began as a protest against Viceroy Lord Curzon’s partition of Bengal in 1905. Its leader, Surendranath Banerjea (1848–1925), promoted a boycott of British manufactured goods. After Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in 1915, he expanded the boycott, focusing on imported British-made cotton cloth and yarn. He considered Swadeshi to be the “soul of Swaraj.” In the weekly journal Young India, which Gandhi published from 1919 to 1931, he wrote: MAHATMA GANDHI
India cannot be free so long as India voluntarily encourages or tolerates the economic drain which has been going on for the past century and a half. Boycott of foreign goods means no more and no less than boycott of foreign cloth. Foreign cloth constitutes the largest drain voluntarily permitted by us. It means sixty crores of rupees [600 million rupees] annually paid by us for piece goods. If India could make a successful effort to stop that drain, she can gain Swaraj by that one act. (“The Secret of Swaraj,” Young India, January 19, 1921) Gandhi proposed to achieve that goal by encouraging, actually insisting, that every Indian man, woman, and child take up home-spinning. He argued that India produced sufficient raw cotton to spin all of the yarn that home-weavers needed to make enough khadi (handspun, handwoven cotton cloth) to clothe the Indian people—poor and rich alike. In his essay “The Duty of Spinning,” he wrote: In “The Secret of Swaraj,” I have endeavoured to show what home-spinning means for our country. In any curriculum of the future, spinning must be a compulsory subject. Just as we can’t live without breathing and without eating, so it is impossible for us to attain economic independence and banish pauperism from this ancient land without reviving home-spinning. I hold the spinning wheel to be as much a necessity in every household as the hearth. No other scheme that can be devised will ever solve the problem of the deepening poverty of the people. (“The Duty of Spinning,” Young India, February 2, 1921) Mahatma Gandhi ardently believed that home-spinning was both a practical and a spiritually integral part of Swaraj— and, in fact, the most important means of achieving it. He was often seen sitting at his charkha (spinning wheel), which like khadi, became a potent symbol of the Indian Independence movement. OPPOSITE : Mahatma Gandhiji (In Yeravada Jail). c. 1930s–40s(?). Print, 12 x 9", b. Mahatma Gandhiji [H]. Publisher: M. Vadilal & Co.,
Ahmedabad and Bombay; printer: Phoenix Print Works, Ahmedabad. I This image was also used as a textile label by the Commercial Ahmedabad Mills Co., Ltd. Note the spindle of cotton yarn and copy of Young India next to Gandhi. BELOW : Independence Labels. Left to right: Boycott British Goods. n.d. 1 x 1½", l. Free India, Awake [H], t. Non-Violence, Leave Alcohol [H], b. Wear Khadi [H]; Boycott British Goods. n.d. Approx. 1¼ x 1¼”; Safety Matches. n.d. Approx. 1½ x 2", [All-India Muslim League Party flag and Indian National Congress Swaraj flag]. I
5 2 0 swaraj and swadeshi
MOTHER INDIA 1. Mother India. c. 1920s–30s. Label, 7 x 5", l. same
as r. [H], inside: Hind Devi (Mother India) [H]. I
2. Mother India as Map of India. c. 1920s–30s.
Print, 14 x 9¾". Published in Germany. I
3. Mother India with Flag. c. 1930s. Label, 4¾ x 3¾".
I. “Martode” is a family name.
4. Mother India. c. 1920s–30s. Label, 5¾ x 4½",
l. The Ahmedabad Spinning and Weaving Co., Ltd. [H], t. Uncho Maal (High Goods) [H], r. Ranchhodlal Chhotalal & Co. [H], b. Made in India Goods [H], inside: Hind Devi [H]. I 5. Vijaya Mills. c. 1920s–30s. Label, 9 x 7¼", r. same as l. [H], b. Vijay Devi (Victory Goddess) [H]. I
BHARAT MATA (MOTHER INDIA) ,
a play by Kiran Chandra Bannerjee, was first performed in 1873. At about the same time, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee wrote the poem “Vande Mataram,” in which Mother India takes the form of a Hindu goddess: “Thou art Goddess Durga, Lady and Queen.” As “Vande Mataram” became the patriotic song of the Indian Independence movement, so did Mother India become its icon—the fierce and protective Mother Goddess, the vanquisher of demons, the liberator of the oppressed, the defender of dharma. Bharat Mata, also known as Hind Devi, is traditionally depicted with four arms, holding a trident and a flag, wearing a helmet-like headdress, and dressed in a sari. At times she is accompanied by a lion, which is Durga’s mount. Figs. 1, 2. Hind Devi’s body, flowing hair, and sari conform to the cartographic shape of India. Fig. 3. “Om” appears on the flag and also in the label’s four corners. At this time, Amritsar was a center for textile dyes. This label would have been affixed to containers of powdered dye imported from the United States. Fig. 4. The Ahmedabad Spinning and Weaving Company, founded by Ranchhodlal Chhotalal in 1861 in Shahpur, was the first cotton mill in Ahmedabad. Here, Mother India gives Swadeshi cloth to her children. Fig. 5. Bharat Mata as the warrior goddess Durga (Vijay Devi). “Vijaya” means “victory.”
swaraj and swadeshi
Published by Goff Books, an imprint of ORO Editions. www.goffbooks.com email@example.com Copyright © 2022 Susan Meller Text and images copyright © 2022 Susan Meller www.labelsofempire.com Editor: Susan Homer Creative Director: Susan Meller Design: Susan Meller and Sarah Gifford Translations: Dhir Kumar Nowlakha Photography: Marty Kelly Goff Books Executive Publisher: Gordon Goff Goff Books Production Manager: Kirby Anderson Goff Books Marketing Manager: Brooke Biro All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic, mechanical, photocopying, microfilming, recording, or otherwise (except as permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the US Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press) without written permission from the author. You must not circulate this book in any other binding or cover and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer. Permission has been sought for use of potentially copyrighted illustrations in this book. In several instances, despite due diligence, it has not been possible to locate the original copyright holder. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 First Edition Library of Congress Control Number: 2 0 2 2 9 0 19 8 6 ISBN : 9 78 -1- 95 4 08 1-25-3
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OPPOSITE : Acrobat with Tiger. 1922. Label, 10½ x 8½." I
(see page 360, fig. 4)