India is famous as a land of cloth. Yet for much of India's historical past, the ways textiles were made and used, and their wider cultural and societal dimensions, are poorly understood. Most of what we know about them is gleaned from texts, but they have not been studied archaeologically. This is in contrast to archaeologies of earlier pre- and proto-historic periods, which are more materially grounded and draw on a range of proxies in examining textile production. This article demonstrates that a class of artifacts usually identified and dismissed as 'beads' throughout historical periods are spindle whorls. Analyses of these whorls can tell us a great deal about textile production and the societal contexts in which textiles were made and used. I also explore constraints on the archaeological investigation of textiles and textile production in historical periods in South Asia and advocate a more artifact-oriented approach.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 272-305
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.