The Cloth that Changed the World

Royal Ontario Museum / India’s Painted and Printed Cottons

Made with novel cotton, vivid colours and exuberant design, the painted and printed cottons of India changed human history; they revolutionized art, fashion and science wherever they went around the globe. Featuring pieces from the Museum’s world-renowned collection, and several important international loans, this ROM-original exhibition explores how over thousands of years India’s artisans have created, perfected and innovated these printed and painted multicoloured cotton fabrics to fashion the body, honour divinities, and beautify palaces and homes.

Exploring the fascinating stories behind the making and trade of these glorious pieces past and present, The Cloth that Changed the World considers India’s textile innovations and their influences on fashion, trade and industry around the world in places as far as Cairo, Japan, Sumatra, London, and Ottawa. They were the luxury fabric of their day, coveted by all, and one of the great inventions that drew foreigners to India’s shores hungry for more. Discover how through trade-routes, encounters, and exchange, these cloths connected cultures, inspired imitation and, quite literally, changed the world. Experience how India’s designers and makers today are innovating for new times and audiences.