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What impact did the books have?

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More research is needed to understand what impact The Textile Manufactures of India had on British exports to South Asia, but Forbes Watson’s project undoubtedly helped British manufacturers better understand this market. As a result many cheap British fabrics were exported to South Asia and this had a devastating effect on this area’s hand-loom weaving industry.

Recent research by Sonia Ashmore, a writer on Indian textiles, has revealed that after The Textile Manufactures of India was published several British textile manufacturers did register new designs which exactly copy those found in this collection. The two illustrated here are cheap printed copies of complicated woven and tie-dyed patterns.

Although it is possible to see Forbes Watson’s decision to cut up beautiful fabrics from the India Museum’s stores as an act of destruction, in many ways his wish to catalogue and circulate these fabrics has preserved them for future generations to study. We hope that this website will enable researchers to better understand the type of fabrics included in The Textile Manufactures of India, as well as the impact of this work on textile production in both Britain and South Asia.

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