Acey of Sparkling Lotus-Land and Nichobella has written a wonderful review of African Textiles by John Gillow. This book looks magnificent . . . it's expensive but not all that much more than a tank of gas these days, even in my 17-year-old Honda, and will certainly last longer and inspire more. After reading her review I realized that a book I'd checked out from the library last week, called Traditional Indian Textiles, was also by John Gillow. He seems to have a new book forthcoming on Indian textiles as well.
John Gillow is a true global textile explorer (John, wherever you are, do you need an assistant?) and has an incredibly wide-ranging fascination for history, culture and aesthetics seen through the textile lens. As more and more textile traditions are lost, research like his becomes more important.
If Indian textiles interest you, I also recommend Tradition and Beyond: Handmade Indian Textiles, which seems to be more available now. I found my copy at a local store that stocks used and unusual new books, and I'm so glad I bought it. It too was a splurge at the time, but I've never regretted having it for even an instant.
This blog by photographer Claude Renault has a wealth of beautiful photographs of India, and you'll get a feel for the color palette and human emotion of the country seen through an artist's eye.
It's amazing how rich with pattern and color and design the world is. These treasuries of pattern and color in India and Africa contrast quite a bit with the book I'm reading on the Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic, where colors are subdued, pattern is very subtle, and restful space is paramount.
And if you'd like some world music to go with your textile journey, I've been listening to the beautiful Rise by Anoushka Shankar, Ravi Shankar's daughter. The music is rooted in traditional Indian structures, yet modern and eclectic in its sensibility and very accessible to Western listeners. The song Beloved is transcendent.
photograph of Indian textile by Celeste Goulding.