Textile, mordant painted and dyed chintz
Origin: India, for export to the west
13 3/4 x 21 3/4 in. (35 x 55 cm)
Gift of F. Schumacher and Company.
Acc. No. 1978-194
Rectangular fragment of cotton textile, mordant-painted and resist-dyed in an exotic pattern of coiling stems, curving leaves, and flowers in reds, pink, lavender, and tan, with details of indigo blue on white ground. Plain weave cotton, lacking selvages. Not a full repeat.
Label:Indian textile printers had used the labor-intensive process of mordant painting and resist dyeing for hundreds of years before trade with Europeans began in the 16th century. To achieve reds, pinks, lavenders, and black, dyers hand painted the design with mordants, or color fixatives, and then dyed the textile with chay, a root that yields a dye capable of producing red and a number of other colors. The final color depended on the chemical composition of the mordant. For blue, workers usually used wax to resist the dye in all areas except those to be blue and dyed the textile in an indigo solution. The final step was glazing the textile with rice paste and polishing the surface. Between every step of the production, the textile had to be cleared, or cleaned, of dye or wax residue.