Well , in most countries you might be assumed to have sneezed . But here in the C17th if you were frightfully fashionable and rather well off , you would have been talking about chintz ... glazed chintz in particular or , these days , you might be going to the Fries Museum to see their latest exhibition . There's a wonderful three hundred year-old silk kimono , magnificently preserved and vibrant , that's worth the trip alone .
When the Dutch East India Company managed to elbow their way into the market , picking up this beautifully hand painted or blockprinted cotton in India to exchange in Indonesia or Japan for spices and china , it became increasingly popular and pieces began to find their way back to Holland , to Hindeloopen in particular . There it inspired painted furniture , bed covers and the local women's costume and in fact you can still , in the old fishing ports , see women wearing dresses trimmed with chintz bonnets , decorative sleeves and aprons .
As eventually the handcarved blocks were brought back by returning East India Company employees and copied ; the dyeing techniques and the original processes simplified , and substances like buffalo urine , metal salts and saffron replaced with easier to get hold of materials , local factories made cheaper copies . Nearly everyone has some Hindeloopen patterned cotton around if they've inherited a grandmother's bed linen ... I've got pieces myself , bought in thrift shops and vintage stores .
But two hundred years ago , every scrap of this treasure was hoarded ; stored in airtight chests, sometimes for generations , and eked out to make bodices , baby clothes , collars and cuffs , mittens ...
And , of course , when totally past their best , the more modern pieces found their way to patchwork quilts . Needless to say , I would love to own this quilt
But what I really , really wanted was this very rich little girl's version of Barbie . A C19th doll and her chest of clothes . TWO straw hats !!
Oh yes , and the hem of this dress . For one of the more tomboyish Bennet sisters , perhaps.