Textiles Of India


Textile Art Book Reviews

At Mr X Stitch we love to review textile art and embroidery books for you. There are so many great books to discover, packed with needlework inspiration and textile techniques, so we dive into each book to find out what’s good, what’s bad and let you know why you should pick it up.

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Here’s what we think of Textiles Of India written by Helmut and Heidi Neumann and published by Prestel

Introduction

This book demands attention, it is impossible to miss. A hardcover bible, dressed as linen with its own jacket. It is filled full of colour illustrations, both full view and close up in style. In size, it is a giant, at 34cm x 25.5cm. Textiles of India will soon become your when-cannot-travel companion, a publication to get lost in and discover a wealth of culture and history. From silks, embroideries to exciting finds in temples…the authors reveal rare textiles as well as those more commonly known within this impressive over 300 page bible of a publication.

Yet does it live up to its high end visual status? A book can be disappointing nonmatter its size – will this one live up to our hopes of a sustainable and valuable read?

About The Authors

To create a book such as this is not an easy task and should be accomplished by those with a wealth of experience. The authors Helmut and Heidi Neumann began collecting Textiles over forty years ago and have travelled to India on a regular basis. Thus they have on site knowledge of both the place and culture within. They often speak at conferences in the Indian arts field.

Rosemary Crill formerly served as the Senior Curator of South Asian Art at The Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Within this section of this place, she specialised in Indian Arts, with a focus on those Textile based. She has also authored further publications with Indian Textiles as a focus.

From this small description of each writer, we understand that they have had experience both in an all rounded manner and in textiles within India. Thus they are able to write with conviction and depth of knowledge. Someone new to textiles would not be able to take on a feat such as this tome of a publication.

Who Is This Book Aimed At?

We would judge that this book isn’t just one for textile artists. It has the travel and culture edge, so sits well as a coffee table pleaser – although due to its size and stature it may fill that table! Having said that, this isn’t a publication which is flimsy or light in content – it demands respect. At its price point, which of course is a natural figure for its content and size, you need to either have a lovely friend gift it to you or be interested in its topic. In the year it is published (late 2020) we have not had travel as an aspect of our lives – thus this may be our way of seeing the world for now. It has that visual appeal which surpasses an interest in Textiles alone – it has a beauty to transfix most of us.

Content

Okay so this book is immense – large and somewhat austere on first glance. It is the sort of thing we imagine dressing the tableware of a Stately Home, yet it has found its way into our studio. Lets break it down….

Textiles of India contents list
Thankfully it is divided into sections of interest

As you can see, there are twelve chapters, separating the various sections of interest. If we feel travel starved, we will become overly full with this one. Within each chapter, we journey to a different area of India, a different culture and learn much about the actual place as well as the textiles found there.

Textiles of India the forward
Tradition – we will learn a lot about the history and culture which has made India the colourful fabric playfield that it is

We glean much from reading the introduction, the connection with the authors and why they are the writers of this book make sense. I.E. The concept of collecting – something that Crill has evidenced physically in her career as curator of a part of the V&A – she is now able to put that experience and researched knowledge into this publication.

Textiles of India introduction
Many of us will be guilty of collecting something, yet this type of collecting holds a deeper meaning – this is thought out and well researched

Set up wise, basically the book has quite a similar format throughout. Big images are set with writing next to them, nothing is left unexplained – the beauty of a well researched publication.

textiles of India pages
The publication has a museum catalogue feel – so well laid out

Deepening on the structure of the layout in line with the book content, everything is clearly signposted. For example each piece has it’s own label, telling us the actual size of the artwork illustrated and exactly what it is.

Textiles of India label
Clear labels sectioned off via a rectangle coloured shape – note the numbering system too

Finally there is a glossary to help us work out and understand terms used within the books pages and also a bibliography so we can check out any resources we are interested in. The rest of the text on the white pages really fills out the description, telling us more surround the piece, its culture, what it is used for etc.

Photography

This is styling and photography at its best – we cannot fault it. We will give you a few examples….

Textiles of India linen style close up
From the opening cover, we see the quality of the image

This first inside page featured above has a thick linen style feel.

Textile of idea full page view
One of the full spread images

Even looking more closely the images are clear…each object is photographed from multiple angles and reproduced in meticulous detail to achieve as near perfection as possible.

This is effective especially due to the books textile nature, as the imagery is so well put together that it is as if we can feel the textures of the fabrics.

textiles of india close up
Close up details

This is an image led publication – please do it justice and spend time in each section, as you would visiting an actual art gallery or museum. Plus you will discover that many pieces illustrated are rare to see out of these pages, thus a really special bonus.

What Makes This Book Special?

We are overcome with the sheer impact of this one. So beautiful, this volume makes a large gift for anyone interested in the history and culture, the craft of one of the world’s oldest textile traditions and places to view them. Be warned, you may just want to go and see it all for yourself, yet this book enables us to visit all the locations, something we could never do in one Indian holiday!

Textiles of India book for real
Look at that – so much to discover

Anything Wrong With The Book?

It has a serious, studious tone. So if you are looking for a nice cheerful how-to or step-by-step book on a particular area of textiles, this will not please you or fill that expectation.

textiles of india serious
Take come time out and give this book the respect it craves

If you are looking to be inspired, this is certainly a source to go to. The detailed images may make you create an Indian style pattern or embroidery.

Conclusion

We believe that if you decide to make space for this book in your life, you will not let it go easily. It is a timeless nature, one to keep reflecting upon.

From silks from Gujarat, pieces found in Tibetan temples, resist dyed cottons from Indonesia, and a mound of embroideries…what will be your highlight?

Textiles Of India is available to purchase right now.

Get your copy from BookStore and support independent bookshops.

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