Textile label produced for Best & Co. Ltd., Madras, depicting the Birth of Shakuntala

Unknown Maker(s)19th to 20th centuries

Museum of Art & Photography

Museum of Art & Photography
Bangalore, India

A textile label produced for Best & Co. Ltd., Madras, its imagery taken from Ravi Varma's famous composition titled Shakuntala Janam or the Birth of Shakuntala.

According to the story, frightened by the sage Vishwamitra's growing powers, Lord Indra sent the beautiful apsara Menaka to seduce him and interrupt his meditation. Menaka successfully lured Vishwamitra, and Shakuntala, their daughter was born. In this scene, Ravi Varma imagines the moment when Vishwamitra rejects Menaka and baby Shakuntala, because they remind him of his lapse in spiritual pursuits and his renunciation of domestic life.

Textile trade labels, also referred to as ‘tickets’ and ‘tikas’ remain a less popularly known, though entirely fascinating, by-product of Indo-British trade and cultural history in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These trade labels formed an integral part of the publicity campaigns of both British and Indian mills of the period, and featured imagery that ranged from the mythological to the political. Customarily rectangular in format and marked by borders that usually carried the names of the mills or their agents, they were directly attached to cloth or pasted on the bales of cotton cloth being shipped. Every bale of yarn and cloth coming into India from England carried these labels or trademarks; and soon indigenous mills began to employ the same method of marketing their wares.


  • Title: Textile label produced for Best & Co. Ltd., Madras, depicting the Birth of Shakuntala
  • Creator: Unknown Maker(s)
  • Date Created: 19th to 20th centuries
  • Location: England/Germany; India
  • Type: Textile Label
  • Rights: Courtesy of the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP)
  • Medium: Chromolithograph
  • Museum No.: TC.645

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