A general term for early printed fabrics with calico as the base cloth from India. The 17thC East India Companies brought these textiles back from the East Indian Coromandel Coast. They were lightweight, colourful and did not shrink or bleed when washed, thanks to printing and dyeing techniques as yet still unknown in the West.

These fabrics knew such success that British SILK and WOOL manufacturers started complaining, and a Court ruling on October 26, 1686 altogether banned the manufacturing, trading and buying of printed calico. However, this prohibition only led to greater success, and black market sales soared. The ban was finally lifted in 1759, having proved utterly inefficient. France immediately became a hotbed for calico factories, including the famous one at Jouy-en-Josas (see toile de Jouy).

Calico motifs usually fall into two styles: those based on the traditional tree of life pattern, allover surface pattern or block printed motif, often with complementary borders.

The early calicoes have significantly shaped both the English and French style for the past several hundred years, inspiring textile, wall hanging and floor rug design, in tapestries and crewel works, new and replica chintzes,and the provençal and dimity cotton prints

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