A textile label produced for Madras Import Co., Madras, featuring Krishna with two gopikas. This illustration is inspired by a popular Ravi Varma print depicting this episode.
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.