John Forbes Watson

John Forbes Watson (1827-1892) was assigned with the task of making a catalogue of products from India for the Secretary of State for India. He was no stranger to India as not only did he recognise the beauty of Indian textile design he had lived in Bombay from 1850 to 1853 as an army surgeon. In 1858 he was appointed Director of the India Museum in London and the Reporter on the Products of India.

As British manufacturers had little understanding of the variety of fabrics used in South Asia he published several books containing textile samples to enable British textile manufacturers sell more of their products to South Asian market.

He wrote -
"India is in a position to become a magnificent customer … to clothe but a mere percentage of such a vast population would double the looms of Lancashire."

“Indian taste in decoration is in the highest sense refined. Such combinations of form and colour as many of these specimens exhibit everyone will call beautiful; and this beauty has one constant feature – a quietness and harmony which never fail to fascinate … There is [also] no want of ornamentation … The portions which are concealed when the garment is on the wearer are rarely decorated”.

John Forbes Watson had even realised that British manufacturers would need to know how a saree was draped therefore he published a further book in 1866 "The Textile Manufactures of India and the Costumes of the People of India", setting out additional information on ee fabrics with photographs as to how a saree was draped.