In this audio piece we focus on Indian textiles in COTTON: Global Threads. Curator Dr Jennifer Harris discusses the large scale Tipu’s Tent, presented as part of a range of textile treasures highlighting India’s considerable contribution to the history of cotton and global trade. Juxtaposed with this is contemporary work by Liz Rideal, whose fascination with the textiles of India leads her to use Indian fabrics both as inspiration and raw material to create the artworks on display.
Audio recorded at the Whitworth Art gallery. Featuring one image of Tipu’s Tent © National Trust, England & Wales – Powis Castle, Powys. Other images © Liza Lemsatef Cunningham, ellelens.com
Tipu Sultan’s Tent
The tent was created for Mughal ruler Tipu Sultan Sahib of Mysore around 1725-50. The entire tent is rectangular and was originally used as a mobile residence whilst advancing in his territories. The exterior as was common at the time is plain, but the interior is cotton chintz, richly decorated with a process of printing, painting and resist-dying. It features floral motifs in red and green, cleverly created by overpainting indigo blue with yellow dye.
The impressive Qanat or wall from Tipu’s Tent is on loan from Powis Castle in Wales. The tent made its way from India to the UK after Tipu Sultan was defeated in 1799, with the establishment of British colonial rule. The Second Lord Clive became Governor of Madras and collected it as a war trophy – the tent was passed down through his family who used it as a marquee for garden parties. It was acquired by the National Trust in 1999, Curator Jennifer Harris expressed her delight that it was able to be shown in the context of the COTTON Global Threads exhibition as an example of the astounding work produced by Indian artisans through the ages.