Fabrics play a vital role in ceremonies that mark every stage of religious, cultural and social life in India. Traditionally, the creation of a textile is considered an act of worship, and the wearing of sacred cloths is an important aspect of rites of passage.
The book begins with an overview of the ritual importance of textiles through the major religions of India and an exploration of ikat, the "magical" textile common to many cultures of the world. Subsequent articles present pioneering research on the Islamic and Buddhist textiles of Ladakh; the ritual garments of the Parsi Zoroastrians; the representation of sacred trees in the kanthas of Bengal; the Hindu, Islamic and Christian traditions of Goa; and the significance of the torans of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The final chapter studies the fabrics imported from India which are indispensable in the ceremonies of the Kalabari of Nigeria.
This range of unusual themes explored by textile experts and designers is a first step in presenting some of the unique sacred textile traditions of India, while recognizing that innumerable others await study and documentation.