The textile tradition of India is varied and rich. India has an old tradition of textiles and is traced back to the Indus valley civilization. The people Indus valley civilization used homespun cotton for weaving their garments. Indian textiles had great market in a number of countries. India enjoyed a flourishing trade with the outside world on account of its textile products. There was a great demand for Indian textile products in the Roman Empire. Indian silk was popular in Rome in the early centuries of the Christian era. Cotton products, originating from India have been found many Middle East countries. Cotton textiles were also exported to China during the heydays of the silk route.
As far as literary information about Indian textiles is concerned, the
Rig Veda refers to weaving in ancient period. Ramayana and Mahabharata
also speak of a variety of fabrics of those times. The Ramayana refers
to the rich stuff worn by the aristocracy on one hand and the simple
clothes worn by the commoners. Murals and sculptures, belonging to
ancient period also bear testimony to the great tradition of textiles in
India. The past traditions of the textile and handlooms can still be
seen amongst the motifs, patterns, designs, and the old techniques of
weaving, still used by the Indian weavers.
Silk fabrics from south India were exported to Indonesia during the
13th century. India also exported printed cotton fabrics to European
countries and the Far East before the coming of the Europeans to India.
Indian textiles were so popular that most of the European trade
companies began to trade in cotton and other textile materials. The
British East India Company also traded in Indian cotton and silk
fabrics, which included the famous Dacca muslins. Muslins from Bengal,
Bihar and Orissa were also popular abroad.