This textile label produced for Graham Co., Manchester, uses a popular Ravi Varma illustration of Ganga's flight from King Shantanu.
In the story narrated in the Hindu epic, Mahabharata, the Vasus (attendant deities of Indra or Vishnu) were cursed by the sage Vashishta to be born as mortals for stealing his cow. Upon their request, Ganga agrees to be their mother and help relieve their curse and reincarnates on earth. Another story of the curse of Brahma upon the king Mahabhisha and Ganga also froms the backstory as to how in this time she becomes the wife of King Santanu. However, as a condition of her marriage, Ganga insists that the king never question her or her actions, stipulating that she would leave him if he did. Therefore, even as seven of the Vasus were born as their children and Ganga drowned them all one after the other in her own waters, freeing them from their punishment, the king made no opposition. When it appeared she would do the same with their eighth child, Shantanu decided to finally confront his wife, who therefore left him. This eighth son remained alive, and was to become known in his mortal incarnation as Bhishma (Devavrata), one of the most righteous, talented and respected characters of the Mahabharata
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.