This book presents a comprehensive history of handloom weaving industry in India to challenge and revise the view that competition from machine-produced textiles destroyed the country’s handicrafts as claimed by historians until recently. It shows that skill-intensive handmade textiles survived the competition on a large scale, and that handmade goods and high-quality manual labour played a positive role in the making of modern India. Rich in archival material, The Crafts and Capitalism explores themes such as the historiography of craft technologies; statistical work on nineteenth-century cotton cloth production trends; narratives of merchants, the social leaders, the factory-owners; tools and techniques; and, shift from handloom to power loom. The book argues that changes in the handloom industry were central to the consolidation of new forms of capitalism in India.

An important intervention in Indian economic history, this book will be useful to scholars and researchers of Indian history, economic history, colonial history, modern history, political history, labour history and political economy. It will also interest nongovernmental organizations, textile historians, and design specialists.

chapter 1|21 pages


chapter 2|19 pages

Scale and Composition, 1795–1940

chapter 3|36 pages

Consumption and Market

chapter 4|20 pages

Capital and Labour

chapter 5|20 pages

Tools and Techniques

chapter 6|20 pages

Towns and Regions

chapter 7|14 pages

Handlooms and Powerlooms, 1920–1990

chapter 8|12 pages

Handloom after Independence