For many years this technique on bright, floral, hand-painted cotton was a well-kept secret among the elite. Chintz played an essential role in the world in the 17th century. This bright, floral, hand-painted cotton came from India to Europe in the 16th century, becoming a favorite fabric thanks to its beautiful designs. However, for many years it was a closely guarded secret or only accessible to the elite.
The 18th century opened the frontiers for this fabric, making it by then more accessible. Lightweight, washable, brightly colored, and boldly printed pieces of cotton eventually became a sensation throughout England and Europe. These developments resulted in the intricate and colorful Chintz fabric flowers being cherished and preserved for generations.
Where do Dutch Cottons come from?
The Dutch East India Company merchants transported these cotton fabrics from the Coromandel Coast to the Netherlands' former Voor-India. They also adapted the original native patterns to the fashion and taste of European customers.
We know the final result as "cotton Indians" used in Western European interiors, clothing, and costumes. Several elements of traditional Dutch costumes are made of these Indiennes. The original "cotton Indiennes" characteristic feature is the shiny layer whose function was to make the cotton fabrics look like silk fabrics and avoid dirt and deposits.
In the 18th century, in Western Europe, a new printing method was discovered. By reproducing the original Indiennes, it put an end to imports from Voor-Indië (India). By the way, if you wonder where the name 'indiennes' or 'sitsen' in Dutch comes from, you will find an obvious explanation by comparing the Dutch name with the original Indian name for this type of flowery cotton fabric, namely Chitti, which means 'the technique of color projected onto the background.
Due to the growing demand, many fabric printing companies were established in Europe. There were still about 80 printing houses and shining facilities in Amsterdam alone until 1750, but in 1816, there was only one left, 'Overtooms Welvaren', which was sold and discontinued the following year. During the 19th century, modern and mechanized printing companies took over production.
Willem Rudolf den Haan is the inventor of a new printing and processing technique for the "original Indian flower and tree of life" motifs - Palempores, for applications such as interior decoration or historical garments, or mainly for patchwork and quilts.