With Qualifierskalamkari [Preferred Spelling, Persian], sits [Dutch], tjita [Malay], tjinde [Javanese], pintadoes [Portuguese]
Textiles, Modifiers, and Values
Choose a textile from the dropdown list on the upper left. Select modifier(s) for your selected textile, if any. The bar graph will generate visualizations that reflect your selections. X- and y-axis variables can also be changed.
A note about modifiers: The modifier dropdown list will include only those modifiers that relate to the selected textile. Choose OR to see results that match any of the selected modifiers. Choose AND to see results that match all of the selected modifiers. You can select more than one modifier in each field.
Chintz is the most collected and most studied Indian textile from the early modern period. Its bold colors and patterns have long appealed to consumers across the world, and European textile factories later imitated it. The term ‘chintzy’ today can mean a busy (even tacky) pattern or a cheap (ungenerous) person. Chintz textile was made in a range of patterns, from geometric to figural, but is most often associated with florals and plants, like the image above, with red and pink stylized flowers and purple, green, and brown/black stems and leaves. It could be in a repeating pattern or a singular field, like the popular Tree of Life motif. In the documents reflected in the dataset, chintz might be described by color (most often blue or red, sometimes gilded), process (printed/gedrukt or painted/geschilderd), fiber (mostly cotton, but some silk), quality (ordinary to superfine), size (wide, narrow, small), or as-yet-unclear type (metsilia, native/inlandse, chiaboutria, cherongs). Laarhoven describes a range of sizes for a piece of chintz: 2.5–28 x 0.27–1.75 meters.  In the dataset, chintz ranges widely in price, from 1 guilder to 200 guilders a piece, reflecting the range of qualities and sizes.
Chintz or kalamkari technically refers to the multi-stage process for decorating a plain textile (though the term used interchangeably for the finished textile itself). Using a wooden block or pen (kalam), a material was applied to the textile that either dyed it directly, encouraged dye to adhere to the textile (a mordant, like alum), or inhibited dye (a resist, like wax). In the example here, which is draped to show both the front (above) and back (below) of the textile, hot wax was applied to the white fabric to reserve the areas where the plants and ribbons were planned. The selectively waxed textile was then plunged into an indigo dye vat, which colored the majority of the textile a dark blue. The textile was then washed in hot water, which removed excess dyestuffs and the wax, and the flowers where then similarly mordant/resist/directly applied, one color/shade at a time. Handpainted examples were the most labor-intensive, but even if printed by block, this required careful placement and many stages of dyeing. A chintz can also be a mix of hand-painting and block-printing. The primary colors of Indian chintz are red (chay and/or madder), and blue (indigo), and dark brown/black linework may also be visible. Yellow (turmeric, the least stable of these dyes) was applied last. These colors could be applied in varying shades and could also be layered to create the secondary colors. Often, foliage which was originally green has turned blue as the turmeric faded or was washed out.
In the early modern period, chintz was shipped from multiple centers on the Indian subcontinent, from Gujarat to Bengal, was transshipped through Batavia/Jakarta and Sri Lanka, to all across Asia, to the Cape of Good Hope, and mostly to the Dutch Republic, and from there on West India Company ships to the West coast of Africa. Using the app above, with your x-axis set to ‘Destination Region,’ you’ll see that our dataset contains over 200,000 pieces of chintz travelling to the Dutch Republic between 1700–1725, overwhelming the still-vast amounts of this textile moving to the other markets of the region. Indian resist-dyed cotton dating to the ninth century has been found in Egypt (where conditions favored its preservation in archeological sites), and textual descriptions and travelling motifs suggest a wide range of early trade in chintz or its predecessors.  Indian manufacturers of chintz made designs intended for export to specific regions of the world, depending on local tastes. European consumers preferred chintz with a light-colored ground, while other markets preferred the red and blue grounds more suited to the chintz process. Specialists in chintz, like Ebeltje Hartkamp-Jonxis, Ruth Barnes, and John Guy have explored this textile, its markets, and its impact in great depth.  As our dataset expands, hopefully additional patterns of circulation and specialization will emerge.
Chintz was used for clothing and furnishings, which is clear both from examples that are preserved in museum collections and as depicted in visual culture. There are too many examples to include here, and particular attention should be drawn to the large collections of the Rijksmuseum, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, and many regional museums also have excellent collections of chintz. When first imported to Europe, consumers were impressed by the vibrant colors which stayed so even after many washes, the lightness of Indian cotton, and no doubt also the decorations they perceived as exotic. Bed hangings in chintz were popular and chintz was adopted into the regional dress of Friesland. Chintz and its European imitations can be found in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century costumes for the rich, middle classes, and the poor. 
In the paired images at the top of this entry, the textile at right is typical of chintz made for the European market, with a white ground and stylized floral pattern repeating. There is enough variation in the application of colors to show this was at least in part hand-painted, though with careful adherence to a pattern, possibly block-printed directly onto the fabric before the currently-visible dyes were applied. In the image at left, a mixed-race woman wears a length of cloth wrapped as a skirt. At her sides, the textile in red and blue curls on white ground is suggestive of the textile at right, while the triangle pattern down the front looks like one of the preferred chintz patterns of the Javanese market.
Ruurdje Laarhoven, “The Power of Cloth: The Textile Trade of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) 1600–1780,” (Australian National University, 1994), appendix: 18–19.
Ruth Barnes, “Early Indian Textiles in Egypt,” in Cloth that Changed the World: The Art and Fashion of Indian Chintz, ed. Sarah Fee (Royal Ontario Museum & New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019), 50–61.
Sarah Fee, ed. Cloth that Changed the World: The Art and Fashion of Indian Chintz (Royal Ontario Museum & New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019); Ebeltje Hartkamp-Jonxis, Sits: Oost-West Relaties in Textiel (Zwolle: Waanders, 1987); John Guy, Indian Textiles in the East: From Southeast Asia to Japan (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2009).
John Styles, Threads of Feeling: the London Foundling Hospital’s Textile Tokens (London: Foundling Museum, 2010).