It was 8 in the evening, I lied down on my bed which was covered with my favorite cotton hand block printed bedsheet, shutting down my laptop. After working at home for hours due to the pandemic situation, I closed my tired eyes. Within a minute or two, my phone started beeping. I looked at my phone with an irritated face. It was a call from my closest friend Rita. I could not ignore her call so I received it quickly. “Hey, are you busy? Can I come to your home now?” she asked. As her residence is near mine, I agreed.
While we were gossiping, she handed me a book she got from her university library. She knows that I love reading textbooks and am also very interested in researching ancient facts. The book is titled ‘Cotton’ written by Stephen Yafa. I became happy instantly and asked her ” How did you know that I wanted this book?” I know what is your area of interest and that’s why I brought this textbook for you” Rita said.
As I started reading the book, I discovered some unknown facts about the history of cotton and the stories revolving around its discovery. I got so much engrossed in the contents of the book and here in this blog, I would love to share some of the facts I had learned from the textbook.
Thousands of years ago the women of the city of Rome got mesmerized by a newly found fabric from across the sea. They found the fabric very light, soft, and comfortable to wear and we know that fabric as cotton today. During the 1st century CE, cotton fabric was in huge demand in Rome that was imported from India in return for gold and valuables. I would rather choose a cotton dress in place of other synthetic or any polyester fabric, as it is the most comfortable material worn in the world.
This soft fabric was obtained from a plant grown in India in a form of white balls. The balls contain cellulose which helps them absorb a good amount of dyes and form various colors.
Discovery of Cotton
Now that you know where cotton comes from, let me narrate to you a story of cotton discovery I have read once.
Marco Polo, the renowned merchant from Venice also got carried away by the softest cotton balls from the Indian plants. The kinds of cotton achieved from the coastal regions of India were regarded as the finest version of cotton. Back in those days, Cotton was used as fabric by the upper classes.
I have read in one of the textbooks that the European countries banned the usage of Indian textiles in the era of the 1500s. The reason behind this step was the huge craze and demand for Indian textiles like cotton.
Ummmmmmm! So Indians were not the ones to establish a Swadeshi movement, they also had their own European Swadeshi Movement. Okay, jokes apart!
Moreover, the British had less idea about cotton as they only used wool and linens as their clothing material. They started liking the fabric when they visited India and started ruling here. India continues to be the sole producer of Cotton textile for a longer period of time.
British were not ready to appreciate the work of the Indian weavers rather they wanted them to adopt some modern techniques to increase production to make more profit out of it. After they launched the spinning mill, it brought down the importance of the farmers and weavers in the country.
Another interesting story of Cotton
Wait! that’s not all. While I was going through the wonderful book, I discovered more stories that are revolving around cotton.
Mehergarh somewhere in Balochistan was earlier a part of ancient India. The cotton fibers were traced in a mineralized form in copper beads from a skeleton’s hand. That is the first sample of cotton that was found 9000 years ago. It is said that sample traces of cotton might have been found earlier in portions of Jordan but it was not ideal for a long time due to some reasons.
Anyway, I was totally startled at the fact that cotton is almost a 90000-year-old fabric and was cultivated and used in the early days. The final product got after cultivating the plant is known as Kapas. Being grown in a wide variety, India had exported varieties of cotton to several countries. Many of you might not know the varieties that grow in our motherland. Do you have any idea about the varieties?
Well! Jayadhar, Kurukanni, and Ponduru from Southern India (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh respectively). Kala and Punasa from the western part (Bhuj and Rajasthan) and Finest Comilla Cotton from the Northeast (Comilla in present Bangladesh).
Classic Cotton Textile in Surat
You already know that we can use cotton for several purposes. But cotton clothes serve the maximum of their usages. I already prefer cotton clothes, bedcovers, and cushion covers over any other material. I am pretty sure, you must choose the same for yourself and your family. How many of you have heard about the textile market in Surat, Gujrat, also known as the textile city? Probably the best wholesale and cotton textile market is there in Surat.
Once I visited the market in Surat a few years ago. Those days I was staying near Indore at my relative’s place. So, I made a plan overnight and reached Surat the next morning. The place I went to is called Dumas Square. I did not have any idea that Dumas Square is like the centre of numerous shopping malls. As I was in a taxi, I noticed shops and malls on both sides of the road. I thought of checking out the shops and discover trendy collections of pure cotton clothes.
Another place for wholesale shopping is the Old Bombay Market. And who doesn’t love shopping? I could see the latest and trendy dresses especially for women and also for men. The dresses in Old Bombay Market were so affordable(Wholesale rate) and the quality was much better than I had imagined. At that moment, I wished to purchase each and every item I found in that market…Haha! That sounds crazy. If you visit these markets of Gujrat and you will feel the same like I did.
As I said earlier, that cotton is the best ever fabric anyone can choose. Besides being people’s favorite, it is the most important and sustainable fabric in our country.
Be it, children or someone elder, cotton is the safest, durable, and allergy-free natural fiber amongst all. The most popular cotton designs are Hand block prints (my favorite of course), Cotton Blends, Embroideries, and many more.
Also, to read a blog on Traditional Hand Block Print: Check the link given
If you are a cotton lover like me, you must check out the cotton bed sheets, table covers, beddings, and other home decor fabrics online. There are huge varieties of cotton clothes you would get online today.