AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

A BRIEF HISTORY OF COTTON

Scientists are divided as to how old cotton is. No one is quite sure where the cotton we use today originated from. Plants of different species similar to modern cotton plants were domesticated in India and Central and South America thousands of years ago. Evidence suggests that cotton bolls were used to produce fabric as far back as 7000 years ago. This summation is based on evidence found by scientists in caves in Mexico, which included cotton bolls and pieces of cotton. Below are artistic representations of ancient Egyptian fashion. Note the emphasis on unbleached cotton.

The history of the domestication of cotton is very complex and is not known exactly. Several isolated civilizations in both the Old and New World independently domesticated and converted cotton into fabric. All the same tools were invented to work it also, including combs, bows, hand spindles, and primitive looms. Unlike silk which for centuries was produced only in Asia, cotton was produced all over the world. Soldiers in the army of Alexander the Great used it to pad their saddles.
The Chinese developed cotton in ancient times but didn’t use it widely until the 13th century. When the Spanish arrived in the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries they found that the Aztecs and Incas were skilled spinners, weavers and dyers of cotton.

The latest archaeological discovery in Mehrgarh puts the dating of early cotton cultivation and the use of cotton to 5000 BCE. The Indus Valley
Civilization started cultivating cotton by 3000 BCE.

Cotton was mentioned in Hindu hymns in 1500 BCE. India had been an exporter of fine cotton fabrics to other countries since the ancient times. Several civilizations in both the Old and New World stated using cotton for making fabrics, independently of each other.

Some of the oldest cotton bolls were discovered in a cave in Tehuacán Valley, Mexico, and were dated to approximately 3600 BC. Evidence of cotton was also found in Peru in the form of seeds and cordage dating to about 4500 BC. Herodotus mentions Indian cotton in the 5th century BC.

In the 8th century the Muslim conquest of Spain brings cotton to the rest of the Europe. During the Middle Ages cotton was a fabric in common use. It was hand-woven on a loom until 1350s when the spinning wheel, introduced to Europe which improved the speed of cotton spinning.
During the Middle Ages cotton was a fabric in common use. It was hand-woven on a loom until 1350s when the spinning wheel, introduced to Europe which improved the speed of cotton spinning. When Christopher Columbus explored Bahamas and Cuba, he found natives wearing cotton which probably strengthened his belief that he had landed on the coast of India.

During the Renaissance and the Enlightenment cotton becomes highly sought-after in Europe. Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer, opened sea road to Asia, which made caravans obsolete and allowed for heavier cargos. Technology of cotton processing was moving to the west. Indian craftsmen protected the secret of how to create colourful patterns but some of them were converted to Christianity and revealed their secret to French Catholic priest, Father Coeurdoux who transferred it to France and planted the seed of European textile industry.

Cotton’s rise to global importance came through few factors. Some types of cotton fabrics became popular in Europe. Middle class had become more concerned with cleanliness and fashion and needed easily washable and colourful fabric. East India Company introduced cotton to Britain in the 1690s. New inventions in the 1770s—such as the spinning jenny, the water frame, and the spinning mule— and industrial revolution, made the British Midlands into a very profitable manufacturing centre. The workers had poor working conditions: low wages, child labour, and 18-hour work days from whose labour British cotton products constituted 40.5% of European exports in 1784–1786.

American cotton industry starts growing with invention of cotton gin in 1793 by Eli Whitney. By the early 1830s the United States produced the majority of the world’s cotton which lead to the expansion of slavery in the United States and by the 1850s slaves made up 50% of the population of the states which produced majority of cotton in US: Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Today industrial production is mostly located in Asian countries like India, Bangladesh, and China and in Latin America. Labour is there much less expensive.

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

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