This document from 1730 lists the range of textiles - or 'piece goods' - purchased in Bengal by the East India Company. During the 18th century Indian textiles provided 60 percent of the total value of the Company's sales in London. While workers were subjected to the devastating effects of extreme climate, famine and war, the landowners, brokers and the Company grew rich on their skills.
The Company puchased many fine Indian textiles, including muslins, painted or printed chintz and palampores, plain white baftas, diapers and dungarees, striped allejaes, mixed cotton and silk ginghams, and embroidered quilts. Indian craftsmen were masters of colour-fast dyeing techniques, and many fabrics showed wonderful designs and colour combinations produced by hand-painting and wood-blocking.
About the India Office trading documents
This is part of a collection of documents from the British Library's India Office, all of which relate to British trade with Asia from the late 1600s to the 1800s. The East India Company's first ships arrived in Bengal in 1608. By the end of the 17th century the company had factories, forts and settlements in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. It was importing cotton, silk and indigo, and making inroads into the Dutch domination of the spice trade.
Early in the 18th century, Company ships began to sail onward to Canton and the trade in tea ('cha') and porcelain ('China ware') began. From this time on the East India Company became more of a ruling power than a trading company in India, with the increasing involvement of the British government. A period of progressive domination and annexation followed so that, by 1858, when the East India Company was dissolved and the administration of India was taken over by the Crown, Britain controlled India, Burma, Singapore and Hong Kong.