A brief history of how textiles came about
Translated from: 紡織的傳奇人生
If you are to categorize shoelaces into a particular profession, such as mechanics, chemical material, textile and etc., what would it be? You’ve probably come to a correct conclusion. Yet, even so, I am still going to announce the final answer.
Shoelaces belongs to…
That’s correct! It’s Textiles!
The general public has now become so accustomed to the existence of textiles that we barely ask how it came about. Why do we use textiles and not other materials? What do textiles encompass? If we were to discuss about every facet of textiles, we would probably never come to a halt. For today’s article, however, let’s spend some time going through the basic backgrounds of this industry so that we at least get a general grasp of it.
In regard to the origin of textiles, one saying comes from a story in the Genesis of the Christian Bible, while some say that it’s a production by prehistoric Homo sapiens to keep the body warm. In the biblical account of textiles’ origin, it depicts the story of Adam and Eve when they were still living in the Garden of Eden. It is a story beyond the descriptions of temptation and knowledge between right and wrong; it is a story closely knitted with textiles.
Tempted by their sense of curiosity and craving, the couple ate the fruit forbidden by God. Then and there, they began to feel ashamed of their nudity, and thus immediately drew for green leaves to cover up their naked bodies. This reaction then called the start of textile works. Some people, on the other hand, argue that the story from the Genesis is merely a legendary story and believed that textiles actually came into being thanks to a group of primitives living in glacial environments. These people noticed that animals like bears and wolves seemed unafraid of cold and that unlike humans, these animals all wear natural thermal clothes (i.e. their furry skin), and so they begin making their own “thermal clothes”.
The word, textile, originated from the Latin word, textilis, meaning “to weave” and was used to describe fabrics made by weaving, such as sweaters. Other forms of method (e.g. tatting, knitting, and webbing) and materials (e.g. hemp ropes) are included into textiles only many years later. Allegedly, the earliest textile item now found—a woven basket—dates back to the Neolithic period (around 5,000 B.C.) (Whewell & Abrahart, 2019). Archaeologists also revealed that as early as 3,000 B.C. silks, cotton and other weaving materials are widely used across Egypt and China (Whewell & Abrahart, 2019). Due to its popularity and application in humans’ everyday lives, it is also hard for us to decide the sole inventor of this profession.
Figure 1. Sewing.Com (n.d.) Everything you need to know about fabrics & fabric types: Sewing 101. Sewing.Com. Retrieved from https://sewing.com/fabric-types-everything-you-need-to-know/
The textile products we normally see today, for example clothes, pants, and handbags, are all made from yarns. Nonetheless, people from different ages used different tools to fabricate the items. People in the old times used rods or manual braiders to reprocess industrial hemps or tree barks. Later in the 19th century, which is the age of Industrial Revolution, mankind replaced the manual tools with technological machines so as to lower labor cost as well as the production time of textile products. People in the new age also begin to apply new materials into the weaving industry, such as UV-Resistant curtains, PET-Recycled materials for shoes, water-resistant jackets, florescent shoelaces and etc. A new form of reprocessing technology is also added to textile-making, i.e. spinning, which is designed to straighten out the curls in a fabric.
Whether it’s traditional manual weaving or modern mechanical spinning, textile crafts have become essential applications in our everyday life, and further, the leader of fashion topics. Have you grown more curious about this industry and would like to get a part in its historical timeline? Then, I encourage you to subscribe to our blog.
Read in Japanese:
We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!