Botanical Survey of India digitally archives its full textile collection

The Botanical Survey of India has uploaded its collection of traditional textile samples from across South Asia to a free online database on its website, creating an in-depth resource for designers around the world.

Screenshot from the BSI’s textile archive on its website

“It is a huge repository. Paintings of plants, textile designs from various countries and even natural dyes that have remained hidden for centuries are now accessible with a single click,” BSI director AA Mao told the Hindustan Times. “They will be very useful not just for botanists but also professionals working in the field of fashion and garment technology.”
The now digitised collection includes an original set of 15 volumes compiled by 19th century British businessman Thomas Wardle showcasing specimens of textiles dyed with Indian dyes. The volumes contain information on 4,100 samples of dye patterns, extracted from 64 plants. 
An extensive array of traditional textile designs and traditional dyeing methods can be searched for free in this online library. The online archive also includes 18 volumes of textile designs comprising 1,700 samples compiled by John Forbes Watson between 1866 and 1874. 
“You may find the design of a choga [long-sleeved robe] worn in Afghanistan’s Herat province in the 19th century, design of a Cashmere shawl woven by artisans at Kangra in Himachal Pradesh in the 1850s or the design on a gown made of camel hair known as Burruch and worn by Europeans and natives of Mashhad province of Iran almost 200 years ago,” said BSI’s technical section in-charge SS Dash about the breadth of the collection. 

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