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About the books

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Frontispiece from The Textile Manufactures of India. © Harris Museum & Art Gallery.

Frontispiece from The Textile Manufactures of India.

The Textile Manufactures of India was put together in 1866 by John Forbes Watson, Reporter on the Products of India, to show British manufacturers the types of fabrics made in South Asia. Each page contains a textile sample measuring about 35 x 20cm along with information about where it was made, how it was worn or used, and the price, size and weight of the original fabric from which the sample was cut.

Although the title mentions India alone, the collection includes fabrics from countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan and Nepal. During the 1860s large areas of South Asia were part of the British Empire.

The books contain 700 samples divided into 18 volumes, starting with turbans and ‘garment pieces’ for men and women, which includes sari, dhoti and lunghi fabrics. There are then volumes of muslin, calico and ‘piece goods’ – fabrics made in standard lengths for multi purposes. The final volumes include silks, woollens and even some carpets.

20 sets of The Textile Manufactures of India were produced. 13 sets were given to textile manufacturing towns in Britain and 7 went to trade centres in South Asia (listed below). They were normally given to Chambers of Commerce, Town Halls or Art Schools. The textiles you can see on this website are from the set given to Preston. Originally housed in Preston Town Hall, they are now in the collection of the Harris Museum & Art Gallery and are still in their original display case.


  • Bradford
  • Halifax
  • Huddersfield
  • Liverpool
  • London
  • Macclesfield
  • Manchester
  • Preston
  • Salford
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Belfast
  • Dublin

South Asia

  • Allahabad, India
  • Bombay (Mumbai), India
  • Calcutta (Kolkata), India
  • Madras (Chennai), India
  • Nagpur, India
  • Karachi, Pakistan
  • Lahore, Pakistan

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