UPSC History Arts and Cultural Movements NCERT Extracts - Weavers, Iron Smelters and Factory Owners

NCERT Extracts - Weavers, Iron Smelters and Factory Owners

Category : UPSC



  • Around 1750, India was by far the world's largest producer of cotton textiles.
  • European traders first encountered fine cotton cloth from India carried by Arab merchants in Mosul in present-day Iraq. So they began referring to all finely woven textiles as "muslin” - a word that acquired wide currency.
  • The cotton textiles which the Portuguese took back to Europe, along with the spices, came to be called "calico" (derived from Calicut), and subsequently calico became the general name for all cotton textiles.
  • In 1720, the British government enacted a legislation banning the use of printed cotton textiles - chintz - in England. Interestingly, this Act was known as the Calico Act.
  • The tanti weavers of Bengal, the julahas or momin weavers of north India, sale and kaikollar and devangs of south India are some of the communities famous for weaving.
  • The development of cotton industries in Britain affected textile producers in India in several ways. First: Indian textiles now had to compete with British textiles in the European and American markets. Second: exporting textiles to England also became increasingly difficult since very high duties were imposed on Indian textiles imported into Britain.
  • Sholapur and Madura emerged as important new centres of weaving in the late nineteenth century.
  • Khadi gradually became a symbol of nationalism. The charkha came to represent India, and it was put at the centre of the tricolour flag of the Indian National Congress adopted in 1931.
  • The first cotton mill in India was set up as a spinning mill in Bombay in 1854.
  • The first major spurt in the development of cotton factory production in India, therefore, was during the First World War when textile imports from Britain declined and Indian factories were called upon to produce cloth for military supplies.


The sword of Tipu Sultan and Wootz steel


  • Tipu's legendary swords are now part of valuable collections in museums in England.
  • The sword had an incredibly hard and sharp edge that could easily rip through the opponent's armour. This quality of the sword came from a special type of high carbon steel called Wootz which was produced all over south India.
  • Indian Wootz steel fascinated European scientists. Michael Faraday, the legendary scientist and discoverer of electricity and electromagnetism, spent four years studying the properties of Indian Woodz (1818-22)
  • The swords and armour making industry died with the conquest of India by the British and imports of iron and steel from England displaced the iron and steel produced by craftspeople in India.


 Some Important Facts


  • Patola twas woven in Surat, Ahmedabad and Patan. Highly valued in Indonesia, it became part of the local weaving tradition there.
  • Jamdani is a fine muslin on which decorative motifs are woven on the loom typically m grey and white. Often a mixture of cotton and gold thread was used the most important centres of Jamdani weaving were Dacca in Bengal and Lucknow in the United provinces.
  • Dacca in Eastern Bengal (now Bangladesh) was the foremost textile centre in the eighteenth century. It was famous for its mulmul and Jamdani
  • Aurang - persian term for a warehouse – a place where goods are collected before being sold; also refers to a workshop
  • Bellows - A device or equipment that can pump air.
  • Some communities like the Agarias specialised in the craft of iron smelting.

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