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Indian Textiles in European Markets

Indian textiles became very popular in many European countries. This made wool and silk makers in England protest against the import of Indian cotton textiles.
  • In 1720, the British government banned the use of printed cotton textiles in England. The law was called ‘Calico Act’.

  • At this time textile industries had just begun to develop in England.

  • The English textile producers found it difficult to compete with the Indian textiles. Hence they prevented the entry of Indian textiles into England.

  • The English textile producers started printing Indian designs on white muslin or plain unbleached Indian cloth.

  • To over come the stiff competition from Indian textiles in the European market, the English weavers invented new machines to make cloth cheaper.

In 1764, the spinning jenny was invented by John Kaye which increased the productivity of the traditional spindles.


Spinning Jenny


The spinning jenny is a multi-spool spinning wheel. The device dramatically reduced the amount of work needed to produce yarn. A single worker was able to work eight or more spools at once.

In 1786, the invention of the steam engine by Richard Arkwright revolutionised cotton textile weaving.

Richard Arkwright

Arkwright's achievement was to combine power, machinery, semi-skilled labor, and a new raw material (cotton) to create mass production.

  • Cloth could now be woven cheaply and in immense quantities.

  • However, Indian textiles continued to dominate world trade till the end of the eighteenth century.

The Dutch, the French and the English trading companies made huge profits from textile trade. These companies purchased cotton and silk textiles in India and paid for it in silver. When the English East India Company gained political power in Bengal, it stopped paying for it with precious metals. The company collected revenues from peasants and zamindars used this revenue to buy Indian textiles

Major Textile Centres in India

1. New Delhi
2. Panipat
3. Ludhiana
4. Amritsar
5. Jaipur
6. Jodhpur
7. Bhilwara
8. Ahmedabad
9. Surat
10. Mumbai
11. Ichalkaranji
12. Bangalore
13. Cannanore
14. Cochin
15. Coimbatore
16. Madurai
17. Tirupur
18. Karur
19. Erode
20. Salem
21. Chennai
22. Hyderabad
23. Narsapur
24. Calcutta

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