Printed and painted cotton textiles from India and Persia first arrived in France at the turn of the seventeenth century. The popularity of these colorful imported textiles, often referred to as chintz in English, reached such heights that craftsmen working in Arles, Avignon, Marseille, Nîmes, Nantes, Orange, Toulouse, and other cities soon took to creating their own. The term indienne was eventually used interchangeably to describe both authentic, colorfast Asian textiles and the French imitations that had taken the metropolitan market by storm. However, these fabrics also aroused concern on the part of French textile manufactures, leading to a royal decree in 1686 that banned further importation. Domestic indiennes knockoffs were also outlawed, with exceptions made for free ports such as Marseille and the cities of Avignon and Carpentras. Enforced until 1759, the prohibition indienne encouraged smuggling and illicit trade in both France and New France. The ban was only loosely enforced in the metropole.
Despite colonial authorities' obsession with adhering to the 1686 ban, indiennes textiles could be found in many households from Nova Scotia to Martinique. Indienne quilts, curtains, and even rugs were inventoried in colonial homes; a coverlet of Provence indienne was inventoried in Jacques de Blaine du Château's bedchamber at his plantation in Guadeloupe in 1743. Prosperous colonists donned indienne jackets and dressing gowns. Having resettled in the southwestern French port of Rochefort, the colonial-born Élisabeth Bégon de La Cour sent her son in Montréal a gift of indienne in 1752. He described it in a letter to his brother-in-law in Louisiana, writing
“You know that my dear Mother loves indienne she bought several pieces to dress us all and we parade about here as much as we like.”
The letter describes Madame Bégon's twelve-year-old granddaughter, Marie-Catherine, who postured about, dressed in indienne, from “evening to morning.”
Painted textiles could also be used for ornamental wall coverings and window treatments. The 1744 inventory of Jean-Baptiste-Louis Le Prévost Duquesnel, the commandant of Île Royale, reveals that his bedchamber in the king's bastion at Louisbourg was outfitted with indienne window curtains. In 1750s Louisiana, Jean-Charles de Pradel, a royal military engineer, embellished his bedchamber with painted "Coty" tapestry wallhangings. This is possibly a reference to coutil, a hemp or linen textile sometimes blended with cotton. Across the Mississippi in New Orleans, King's Surgeon François Goudeau owned eighteen pieces of painted linen used as tapestries. Inventoried after news of his death in a British prison reached New Orleans in 1759, the origins of these textiles, appraised at 60 livres, is unclear. Goudeau also owned three indienne curtains and three portières valued at 100 livres. Jean Cambon, admiralty prosecutor in Martinique, furnished his salle with a painted tapestry of grosse toile along with two old Provence indienne curtains in 1766; the tapestry's low estimate of 9 livres is explained by its poor condition, described as hors service and nearly rotten. Another painted grosse toile tapestry, this one in several pieces and also worse for wear, embellished the walls of the chambre.