A south-eastern region of France. One of these places in the world guaranteed to capture the hearts and minds of all setting foot on its land–truly blessed with its sunshine, sea, mountains and valleys. Its typical landscape of lavender and sunflower fields, olive groves and vineyards, picturesque traditional mas farmhouses that hunker into the hillside for protection from severe winds has proved an inspiration to countless individual artists and artistic ideals (Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh, Gaugin, Dufy the impressionists and the fauves, the cubists and the have all…), craftsmen and designers.
During the early to mid 17thC The East Indian Trading Companies returned to Marseille with printed and painted fabrics – palampores and calicoes that were immediately popular, and so much so that in 1686 the French Governent banned these Indian imports. However by 1675 Nimes and Avignon had thriving businesses printing ‘Les Indiennes’ by hand, making small colourful patterns, from carved blocks, onto calico, also imported from India. The colours were all created using local natural dyes and the distinctive designs were soon adapted for decorative home accessories. Now often referred more commonly as Provencal prints.
Throughout the 17-19thC boom in the European textiles industry, fabric printers were able to survive royal interferences longer by working from Avignon, which was a papal seat and therefore under the authority of the Catholic church. The typical Provençal patterns and colours are therefore very similar to those found in Rajstahan and throughout India such as the boteh and stamped representations of seedlings, palms, flower structures.
Only a fraction of the Provençal fabrics available today are based on these 18thC century designs, though they are generally more or less successful variations thereof. These calicos will instantly add a recognisable touch of Provençal style to your home, as a tablecloth, a bedspread or in furnishings.
The traditional quilted bedcovers from Provence are called boutis. They very closely resemble the hand blocked motfis and hand stitched quilts from Rajastan – called botis.
I highly recommend visits to two wonderful museums: the Anokhi Museum close to the Amber fort in Jaipur, the Souleiado Museum of Charles Demery at Tarascon in Provence – to compare the similarities and see national interpretations.