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Asian knowledge and the development of calico printing in Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries*

  • Giorgio Riello (a1)


From the seventeenth century, the brilliance and permanence of colour and the exotic nature of imported Asian textiles attracted European consumers. The limited knowledge of colouring agents and the general absence of textile printing and dyeing in Europe were, however, major impediments to the development of a cotton textile-printing and -dyeing industry in Europe. This article aims to chart the rise of a European calico-printing industry in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by analysing the knowledge transfer of textile-printing techniques from Asia to Europe.



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1 John Ovington, A voyage to Surat in the year 1689, ed. H. G. Rawlingson, London: Oxford University Press, 1929, p. 167.

2 See, for instance, the description by Bernier of the palampores of the king of Aurangzeb representing large vases of flowers: François Bernier, Travels in the Mogul Empire, A.D. 1656–1668, ed. Archibald Constable, London: Oxford University Press, 1916. See also George Percival Baker, Calico printing and painting in the East Indies in the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries, London: E. Arnold, 1921, p. 6; and Margherita Bellezza Rosina, ‘Tra oriente e occidente’, in Marzia Cataldi Gallo, ed., I mezzari: tra oriente e occidente, Genoa: Sagep Editrice, 1988, pp. 15–17.

3 F. La Boyllaye-Le-Gouz, Les voyages et observations du sieur de La Boullaye-Le-Gouz Paris, 1653, p. 166.

4 Ada K. Longfield, ‘History of the Irish linen and cotton printing industry in the 18th century’, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 58, 1937, p. 26.

5 John Irwin, ‘Golconda cotton paintings of the early seventeenth century’, Lalik Kala, 5, 1959, pp. 11–48.

6 Alexander I. Tchitcherov, India: changing economic structure in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, New Delhi: Manohar, 1998, p. 72.

7 Ruth Barnes, Indian block-printed textiles in Egypt: the Newberry collection at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1997, vol. 1, ch. 4. Radiocarbon results dated the process to the eleventh century. Subsequent C–14 dating on the Newberry collection dated it back to the tenth century. See John Guy, Woven cargoes: Indian textiles in the East, London: V&A Publications, 1998, p. 42. I thank Ruth Barnes for this information.

8 Florence M. Montgomery, Printed textiles: English and American cottons and linens, 1700–1850, Bristol: Thoemmes Press Reprints, 1999 (reprint of the 1970 edition), pp. 13–14.

9 N. A. Reath, ‘Printed fabrics’, Bulletin of the Pennsylvania Museum, 20, 95, 1925, p. 143.

10 Until the 1960s, it was believed that the Coromandel cotton textile production was only painted. Research by Irwin, Schwartz, and Floud has disproved that view: see John Irwin, ‘Indian textile trade in the seventeenth century, 2: Coromandel Coast’, Journal of Indian Textile History, 2, 1956, pp. 24–42; John Irwin and P. R. Schwartz, Studies in Indo-European textile history, Ahmedabah: Calico Museum of Textile, 1966; Peter C. Floud, ‘The origins of English calico printing’, Journal of the Society of Dyers and Colourists, 86, 1960, pp. 275–81. Forbes Watson, Baker, and Pfister all discuss the early use of printing in other areas of India: John Forbes Watson, Collection of specimens and illustrations of the textile manufactures of India, 17 vols., London: India Museum, 1872–80; Baker, Calico printing; Rudolf Pfister, ‘The Indian art of calico printing in the Middle Ages: characteristics and influences’, Indian Art and Letters, 13, 1939, pp. 23–9.

11 Zaheer Baber, The science of empire: scientific knowledge, civilization, and colonial rule in India, New York: State University of New York, 1996, p. 59.

12 Nishijima Sadao, ‘The formation of the early Chinese cotton industry’, in Linda Grove and Christian Daniels, eds., State and society in China: Japanese perspectives on Ming-Qing social and economic history, Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1984, pp. 52–3.

13 Carl Schuster, ‘Remarks on the design of an early ikat textile in Japan’, in Carl August Schmitz and Robert Wildhaber, eds., Festschrift Alfred Bühler, Basel: Pharos-Verlag, 1965. I thank Ruth Barnes for this information.

14 Kenneth R. Hall, ‘The textile industry in Southeast Asia, 1400–1800’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 39, 2, 1996, pp. 113–14.

15 Kayoko Fujita, ‘Japan Indianized: the material culture of imported textiles in Japan, 1550–1850’, in Giorgio Riello and Prasannan Parthasarathi, eds., The spinning world: a global history of cotton textiles, 1200–1850, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 181–2.

16 Maxine Berg, ‘In pursuit of luxury: global history and British consumer goods in the eighteenth century’, Past and Present, 182, 2004, pp. 116 and 123.

17 Floud, ‘Origins’, p. 275.

18 Geoffrey Turnbull, A history of the calico printing industry of Great Britain, Altrincham, Ches.: John Sherratt and Son, 1947, p. 18.

19 Olivier Raveux, ‘Espaces et technologies dans la France méridionale d’ancien régime: l’example de l’indiennage marseillais (1648–1793)’, Annales du Midi, 116, 2004, p. 157.

20 Turnbull, History, p. 18.

21 See in particular John Styles, ‘Product innovation in early modern London’, Past and Present, 168, 2000, pp. 124–69.

22 H. K. Naqvi, ‘Dyeing of cotton goods in the Mughal Hindustan’, Journal of Indian Textile History, 7, 1967, p. 46.

23 Joel Mokyr, The gifts of Athena: historical origins of the knowledge economy, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.

24 For a critique, see Maxine Berg, ‘The genesis of “useful knowledge”’, History of Science, 45, 2007, p. 131.

25 Liliane Pérez, ‘Technology as a public culture in the eighteenth century: the artisans’ legacy’, History of Science, 45, 2007, p. 137.

26 See for instance Nicholas Downton, The voyage of Nicholas Downton to the East Indies 1614–15, ed. Sir William Foster, London: Hakluyt Society, 1939, pp. 85, 95–6, 102–4.

27 The chapter’s style suggests that the author was a craftsman and the text was in fact a rather precise disquisition on the raw materials, vessels, and processes adopted in dyeing. Both documents are in the India Office Library at the British Library. See also Naqvi, ‘Dyeing’, pp. 46–7.

28 Letter by Dr Helenus Scott to Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society, from Bombay in 1790, cited in Baber, Science of empire, p. 60.

29 Barbosa spent sixteen years in India working for the Portuguese government. His El livro is an important testimony of the structure of trade and the relationship between Muslin merchants and Portuguese traders. See also Pfister, ‘The Indian art’, p. 24.

30 Beverly Lemire and Giorgio Riello, ‘East and West: textiles and fashion in early modern Europe’, Journal of Social History, 41, 4, 2008, pp. 887–916.

31 A. P. Wadsworth and Julia de Lacy Mann, The cotton trade and industrial Lancashire, 1600–1780, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1932.

32 There is also a fourth document that provides substantial information on dyeing and printing, the account of the Dutchman Daniel De Havart written c.1680 and published in Dutch in 1693; see Irwin, ‘Indian textile trade’, p. 31. Another, although much later, document containing valuable information on calico painting is William Roxburgh’s Plants of the Coromandel Coast, London, 1795; see in particular Paul R. Schwartz, ‘The Roxburgh account of Indian cotton painting, 1795’, Journal of Indian Textile History, 4, 1959, pp. 47–56.

33 P. R. Schwartz, ‘French documents on Indian cotton painting, 1: the Beaulieu ms, c. 1734’, Journal of Indian Textile History, 2, 1956, p. 7.

34 Stuart Robinson, A history of printed textiles, London: Studio Vista, 1969, p. 112. Coeurdoux’s letters from Pondicherry were published partially in 1742 in volume 14 of the Lettres édificantes et curieuses: see Baker, Calico printing, p. 11.

35 For an overview of the history of the manuscript, see Paul R. Schwartz, Printing on cotton at Ahmedabad, India in 1678, Ahmedabad: Calico Museum of Textiles, 1969, pp. 1–3. For a more in-depth analysis of Roques and printing techniques, see George Bryan Souza, ‘The French connection: Indian cottons and their early modern technology’, in Giorgio Riello and Tirthankar Roy, eds., How India clothed the world: the world of South Asian textiles, 1500–1850, Leiden: Brill, 2009, pp. 347–64.

36 Indrani Ray, ‘Of trade and traders in seventeenth-century India: an unpublished French memoir by Georges Roques’, in Lakshmi Subramanian, ed.-, The French East India Company and the trade of the Indian Ocean: a collection of essays by Indrani Ray, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1999, pp. 1–62 and id., ‘The trade and traders in Ahmedabad in late seventeenth century: extracts from George Roques’ MSS’, ibid., pp. 63–76.

37 Cited in Claude Alphonso Alvarez, Homo faber: technology and culture in India, China and the West from 1500 to the present day, The Hague: Nijhoff, 1980, p. 61.

38 Schwartz, Printing on cotton, pp. 4–8.

39 P. R. Schwartz, ‘L’impression sur coton à Ahmedabad (Inde) en 1678’, Bulletin de la Société Industrielle de Mulhouse, 726, 1, 1967, p. 2. The Roques manuscript has also helped to end a long debate about the extent of cotton printing in India and particularly in Gujarat. Irwin incorrectly suggested that block printing was introduced in the early modern period from Iran. Irfan Habib suggests that most Indian cotton textiles were either resist or mordant printed (a position not entirely supported by surviving artefacts) and were widespread in India by the fourteenth century. See John Irwin, ‘Textiles’, in Leigh Ashton, ed., Art of India and Pakistan: a commemorative catalogue of an exhibition held at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1947–48, London: Faber, 1950, pp. 201, 203–4; and Irfan Habib, ‘The technology and economy of Mughal India’, Indian Economic and Social History Review, 17, 1, 1980, pp. 9–10.

40 For a description, see Sublime indigo, Paris: Editions Vilo, 1987, p. 223.

41 Schwartz, ‘French documents’, pp. 6–7.

42 Alvarez, Homo faber, p. 61. The original Rhyner manuscript was well known in its day and was important for the development of calico printing in the Alsace corridor (between the Netherlands and north-west Switzerland). The manuscript is now preserved at the Musée de l’Impression sur Étoffes in Mulhouse. I thank Jacqueline Jacquet for showing it to me.

43 See for instance David Arnold, The new Cambridge history of India, part 3, volume 5: science, technology and medicine in colonial India, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000, p. 20.

44 Cited in Alvarez, Homo faber, p. 60.

45 Schwarz, ‘French documents’, pp. 3–23. This hypothesis is confirmed by the so-called Alexander Papers now at the Library of New York, consisting of a series of fast-coloured European cottons dated 1726.

46 Katsumi Fukasawa, Toilerie et commerce du Levant: d’Alep à Marseille, Paris: Presses du CNRS, 1987, p. 46; Olivier Raveux, ‘Du commerce à la production: l’indiennage européen et l’acquisition des techniques asiatiques au XVIIe siècle’, in Féerie indienne: des rivages de l’Inde au Royaume de France, Mulhouse: Musée de l’Impression sur Étoffes, 2008, pp. 23–5.

47 Fukasawa, Toilerie, p. 48.

48 Avedis K. Sanjian, The Armenian communities in Syria under Ottoman domination, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965, p. 50.

49 Ina Baghdiantz McCabe, The shah’s silk for Europe’s silver: the Eurasian trade of the Julfa Armenians in Safavid Iran and India (1530–1750), Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1999.

50 Olivier Raveux, ‘The birth of a new European industry: l’indiennage in seventeenth-century Marseilles’, in Riello and Parthasarathi, Spinning world, p. 298. See also idem, ‘Du commerce à la production’.

51 L. A. Driessen, ‘Calico printing and the cotton industry in Holland’, Ciba Review, 48, 1944, p. 1749.

52 Marzia Cataldi Gallo, ‘Indiane e mezzari a Genova’, in Cataldi Gallo, I mezzari, p. 25.

53 Frederick Macler, ‘Notes de Chahan de Cirbied sur les Arméniens d’Amsterdam et de Livourne’, Anahit, January–February 1904, p. 11.

54 Cited in Ernst Homburg, ‘From colour maker to chemist: episodes from the rise of the colourist, 1670–1800’, in Robert Fox and Agustí Nieto-Galan, eds., Natural dyestuffs and industrial culture in Europe, 1750–1880, Canton, MA: Watson Publishing, 1999, p. 221.

55 Vahan Baibourtian, ‘Participation of Iranian Armenians in world trade in the 17th century’, in Sushil Chaudhuri and Kéram Kévonian, eds., Les Arméniens dans le commerce asiatique au début de l’ère moderne, Paris: Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 2008, pp. 44–5.

56 Both Richelieu and Colbert were keen to attract Armenian merchants to France, especially those based in New Julfa. See Raveux, ‘Birth’, p. 297.

57 Baker, Calico printing, p. 43.

58 On the general literature, see Liliane Pérez, ‘Savoirs techniques, identités et migrations: l’histoire face aux mythes’, Documents pour l’Histoire des Techniques, 15, 2008, pp. 3–9.

59 Wadsworth and Mann, Cotton trade, p. 131; Les indiennes et l’impression sur étoffes du 16e au 18e siècle, Mulhouse: Museé de l’Impression sur Étoffes, n. d., p. 1.

60 Parakunnel Joseph Thomas, Mercantilism and the East India trade: an early phase of the protection v. free trade controversy, London: P. S. King & Son, 1926, p. 209 (also citing Baines’ view, as given in Edward Baines, History of the cotton manufacture in Great Britain, London: Fisher, Fisher, and Jackson, 1835).

61 Wadsworth and Mann, Cotton trade, p. 130.

62 R. Traupel, ‘Rise and decline of the Swiss calico printing industry’, Ciba Review, 105, 1954, p. 3767.

63 Wadsworth and Mann, Cotton trade, p. 137.

64 For an excellent overview, see Stanley David Chapman and Serge Chassagne, European textile printers in the eighteenth century: a study of Peel and Oberkampf, London: Heinmann Education Books, 1981, pp. 6–9. See also Lemire and Riello, ‘East and West’.

65 Montgomery, Printed textiles, p. 16.

66 Geert Verbong, ‘The Dutch calico printing industry between 1800 and 1875’, in Fox and Nieto-Galan, Natural dyestuffs, p. 195.

67 Robert Chenciner, Madder red: a history of luxury and trade, Richmond: Curzon, 2000, p. 70. For a comprehensive analysis of calico printing in Barcelona, see J. K. J. Thomson, A distinctive industrialisation: cotton in Barcelona, 1728–1832, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992, esp. pp. 50–95.

68 Homburg, ‘From colour maker’, pp. 219–58; Pierre Caspard, ‘L’accumulation du capital dans l’indiennage au XVIIIème siècle’, Revue du Nord, 61, 240, 1979, p. 119.

69 Floud, ‘Origins’, p. 278.

70 Olivier Raveux, ‘Les débuts debuts de l’indiennage dans les pays d’Aix (1758–1770)’, Industries en Provence, 4, March, 2004, p. 1.

71 George Bryan Souza, ‘Dyeing red: S.E. Asian sappanwood in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries’, O Oriente, 8, 2004, pp. 40–58; idem, ‘French connection’.

72 Shireen Moosvi, ‘Armenians in Asian trade: 16th and 17th centuries’, in Chaudhuri and Kévonian, Les Arméniens, pp. 104–5.

73 Floud, ‘Origins’, pp. 278–9.

74 Barnes, Indian block-printed textiles. Before 1500, resist was printed and the cloth immersed in a mordant bath, resulting in a heavy saturation on the reverse. I thank Ruth Barnes for this information.

75 The first use of mordant printing is documented in Marseilles in 1648, followed by Amsterdam in 1676, London in 1677, Ireland in 1693, and Barcelona in 1736. See J. K. J. Thomson, ‘Technology transfer to the Catalan cotton industry: from calico printing to the self-acting mule’, in Douglas A. Farnie and David J. Jeremy, eds., The fibre that changed the world: the cotton industry in international perspective, 1600–1990s, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, pp. 250–2. Additional data has been found in Frances Little, ‘Cotton printing in Ireland in the eighteenth century’, Bulletin of the Needle and Bobbin Club, 22, 1938, p. 15; Peter C. Floud, ‘The English contribution to the early history of calico printing’, Journal of the Society of Dyers and Colourists, 77, 1960, pp. 344–9; idem, ‘English contribution to the development of copper-plate printing’ Journal of the Society of Dyers and Colourists, 76, 1960, pp. 425–34; Serge Chassagne, ‘Calico printing in Europe before 1780’, in David Jenkins, ed., The Cambridge history of Western textiles, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, vol. 1, p. 524; and Raveux, ‘Espaces’, p. 157.

76 Woad is the common name of the plant Isatis tinctoria. It is cultivated in the steppe of Asia and in parts of Europe. Before the introduction of indigo, it was the main blue-dyeing agent in Europe.

77 Jenny Balfour-Paul, Indigo, London: The British Museum, 1998, pp. 56–7.

78 Susan Fairlie, ‘Dyestuffs in the eighteenth century’, Economic History Review, 17, 3, 1965, p. 498.

79 Louisa Dolza, ‘How did they know? The art of dyeing in late-eighteenth-century Piedmont’, in Fox and Nieto-Galan, Natural dyestuffs, pp. 139–45.

80 For a more detailed discussion, see Raveux, ‘Espaces’, pp. 163–4.

81 In reality, it consisted of two different processes. The so-called ‘pencil blue’ involved the addition of orpiment and gum in order to increase the time before oxidation. This allowed indigo to be applied by ‘pencils’ or brushes, thus creating positive blue designs on white cotton textiles. The second process, called ‘China blue’, was developed a few years later (again, probably in England) and was based on the printing of indigo in its undissolved state. Both processes are described meticulously in Floud, ‘English contribution to the early history of calico printing’. See also Balfour-Paul, Indigo, p. 160.

82 Giorgio Riello, ‘The Indian apprenticeship: the trade of Indian textiles and the making of European cottons’, in Riello and Roy, How India clothed, pp. 307–46. See also Homburg, ‘From colour maker’, p. 233.

83 Chassagne, ‘Calico printing’, pp. 516–17.

84 Before 1737, the use of indigo for textile dyeing remained prohibited in France. Although Du Fay’s publication instilled a change in the law, prejudice against indigo remained – so much so that Wetter was refused a patent by the Chamber of Commerce for the ‘bleu anglais’. See Chapman and Chassagne, European textile printers, pp. 105–6.

85 Anne-Françoise Garçon and Liliane Hilaire-Pérez, ‘“Open technique” between community and individuality in eighteenth-century France’, in Ferry de Goey and Jan Willem Veluwenkamp, eds., Entrepreneurs and institutions in Europe and Asia, 1500–2000, Amsterdam: Aksant, 2002, pp. 237–56.

86 Traupel, ‘Rise and decline’, p. 3767. Switzerland, in particular, specialized in the production of Turkey-red squares (subsequently also printed) known in Italy, Germany, Bavaria, and the Ottoman Empire by the name of fazzoletti d’Esslinger, from the town that specialized in this production.

87 Sarah Lowengard, The creation of color in eighteenth-century Europe: ‘Turkey Red’, New York: Columbia University Press and Gutenberg-e, 2006, (consulted 26 November 2009).

88 Liliane Hilaire-Pérez, ‘Cultures techniques et pratiques de l’échange, entre Lyon et le Levant: inventions et réseaux au XVIIIe siècle’, Revue d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine, 49, 1, 2002, p. 105.

89 Ibid., pp. 105–8.

90 Raveux, ‘Espaces’, p. 157.

91 Driessen, ‘Calico printing’, p. 1749.

92 Chenciner, Madder Red, p. 69. Aikin attributes to John Wilson of Ainsworth the first commercial use of Turkey red in England, the secret of which ‘he procured from the Greek dyers of Smyrna’: J. Aikin, A description of the county from thirty to forty miles round Manchester, London, 1795, p. 165.

93 W. Wescher, ‘John Holker, a promoter of the French textile industry’, Ciba Review, 135, 1959, p. 10. See also Dominique Cardon, ‘Textile research: an unsuspected mine of information on some eighteenth-century European textile products and colour fashions around the world’, Textile History, 29, 1, 1998, p. 98.

94 Floud, ‘English contribution’, pp. 425–6.

95 Ireland in 1754, England in 1756, France in 1763, Augsburg in 1766, Barcelona in 1779, Orange in 1779, Colmar in 1770, and Mulhouse in 1782.

96 Chassagne, ‘Calico printing’, p. 520.

97 Peter C. Floud, ‘The earliest copper-plate in India’, Journal of Indian Textile History, 5, 1960, p. 72.

98 Peter C. Floud, ‘The British calico-printing industry, 1676–1840’, Ciba Review, n. s., 1, 1961, p. 4.

99 Robinson, History, p. 26. The process was adopted in Alsace and Jouy in 1797, in North America in 1809, and in Barcelona in 1817. See Gilles Pitoiset, Toiles imprimées XVIIIe–XIXe siècles, Paris: Bibliothèque Forney, 1982, p. 8; and Thomson, ‘Technology transfer’, p. 252.

100 Edgard Depitre, La toile peinte en France au XVIIe et au XVIIIe siècles: industries, commerce, prohibitions, Paris: Marcel Rivière, 1912, p. 5.

101 Robinson, History, p. 24.

102 Stanley David Chapman, ‘Quality versus quantity in the Industrial Revolution: the case of textile printing’, Northern History, 11, 1985, p. 179. Chapman argues that such industrial methods were generally only suitable for the production of lower-quality textiles not only because of the large output of identical design on which they had to rely but also because, until the 1840s, roller-printing machines could print only in three colours, against the fifteen colours that could be used in block printing: ibid., pp. 179–80.

103 Daniel Havart, Op- en ondergang van Cormandel, Amsterdam, 1693, cited in Baker, Calico printing, p. 21.

104 Havart, cited in Irwin, ‘Indian textile trade’, p. 31.

105 G. T. F. Raynal, Histoire philosophique et politique des établissements et du commerce des européens dans les deux Indes, Amsterdam, 1770, vol. 1, p. 399, cited in Baker, Calico printing, p. 21.

106 Baines, History, p. 75.

107 Fairlie, ‘Dyestuffs’, p. 506.

108 Edward Bancroft, Experimental researches concerning the philosophy of permanent colours…, London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1794, vol. 1, xxx.

109 Ibid., xlvi.

110 Charles O’Brien, A treatise on calico printing, theoretical and practical…, London, 1792, vol. 1, p. 56.

111 Only 27 works on textile dyeing and printing were published in Europe in 1700–49, increasing to 75 in 1750–99, and 112 in 1800 and 1849. See Leslie Gordon Lawrie, A bibliography of dying and textile printing, London: Chapman and Hall, 1949.

112 Floud, ‘Origins’, p. 279.

113 J.-C. Flachat, Observations sur le commerce et sur les arts d’une partie de l’Europe, de l’Asie, de l’Afrique, et même des Indes Orientales, Lyon, 1766. See Hilaire-Pérez, ‘Cultures techniques’, p. 105.

114 Cardon, ‘Textile research’, pp. 99–101.

115 Bancroft, Experimental researches, vol. 1, p. 114; C. L. Berthollet, Essays on the new method of bleaching, by means of oxygenated muriatic acid, Dublin, 1790, p. 106.

116 It should be noted that the role of the French state in fostering chemical knowledge of dyes and dyeing was more pervasive than that of its British counterpart. See Leonard Trengove, ‘Chemistry at the Royal Society in London in the eighteenth century, IV’, Annals of Science, 26, 4, 1970, p. 332.

117 Robert Fox and Agustí Nieto-Galan, ‘Introduction’, in Fox and Nieto-Galan, Natural dyestuffs, x; and Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent and Agustí Nieto-Galan, ‘Theories of dyeing: a view on a long-standing controversy through the works of Jean-François Persoz’, in ibid., pp. 4–7.

118 Jan Luiten Van Zanden, ‘The road to the Industrial Revolution: hypotheses and conjectures about the medieval origins of the “European Miracle”’, Journal of Global History, 3, 3, 2008, pp. 337–59. On cotton textiles and mercantilism, see Patrick O’Brien, ‘The geopolitics of a global industry: Eurasian divergence and the mechanisation of cotton textile production in England’, in Riello and Parthasarathi, Spinning world, pp. 351–65.

119 Cardon, ‘Textile research’, p. 96.

120 Tirthankar Roy, ‘India’, unpublished paper for ‘Regimes for the development of useful and reliable industrial knowledge in the West and the East before the age of institutionalised R&D’ conference, Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris, 24–25 May 2007, p. 8.

121 Raveux, ‘Birth’, p. 294.

* I would like to thank Ruth Barnes, Maxine Berg, Claire Browne, Richard Butler, Rosemary Crill, Anne Gerritsen, Jacqueline Jacquet, Beverly Lemire, Patrick O’Brien, Prasannan Parthasarathi, Liliane Pérez, Olivier Raveux, Tirthankar Roy, John Styles, and the anonymous referees for their help and useful comments. Earlier versions of this article were presented at conferences and seminars in Pune, India, in December 2005; The Institute of Historical Research, London, in March 2006; Wellesley College, Massachusetts, in December 2006; and the University of Cambridge, in November 2007.


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