Jim Masselos: Indian Textiles

The June guest speaker was Jim Masselos, retired Honorary Reader in History at the University of Sydney.

As an historian Jim spent a lot of time in India doing research in libraries and was looking for an activity which would take him outdoors and be a means of meeting local people. This was the beginning of a beautiful and varied collection of Indian textiles. We only saw part of his collection but by the end of the talk there were three tables covered in bags, scarves, shawls, bedspreads, saris and pieces of fabric.


The fibres were cotton, wool and silk; woven in ikat (warp, weft and double); block printed fabric in modern examples of old designs: embroidered cloth from Western India of flower patterns with inlaid mirrors. Others were appliquéd pieces and some combinations of appliqué and embroidery. One cloth was painted on one half and folded over to apply the paint to the other half. Colours were burgundy with black and cream, yellow and red, blue and grey with gold thread, orange and green on white, black on cream, red with black and blue and more. I was so fascinated by the fabrics that it was hard to get the details down on paper and what I did write doesn’t do justice to the colours, designs and techniques.

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