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Fabric Coarse linen
Information about Fabric CoarselinenLinen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant, Linum usitatissimum. Linen is labor-intensive to manufacture, but when it is made into garments, it is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather.
Textiles in a linen-weave texture, even when made of cotton, hemp and other non-flax fibers are also loosely referred to as "linen". Such fabrics generally have their own specific names other than linen; for example, fine cotton yarn in a linen-style weave is called Madapolam.
The collective term "linens" is still often used generically to describe a class of woven and even knitted bed, bath, table and kitchen textiles. The name linens is retained because traditionally, linen was used for many of these items. In the past, the word "linens" was also used to mean lightweight undergarments such as shirts, chemises, waistshirts, lingerie (a word which is cognate with linen), and detachable shirt collars and cuffs, which were historically made almost exclusively out of linen.
Linen textiles appear to be some of the oldest in the world: their history goes back many thousands of years. Fragments of straw, seeds, fibers, yarns, and various types of fabrics which date back to about 8000 BC have been found in Swiss lake dwellings. Dyed flax fibers found in a prehistoric cave in the Republic of Georgia suggest the use of woven linen fabrics from wild flax may date back even earlier to 36,000 BP.
Linen was sometimes used as currency in ancient Egypt. Egyptian mummies were wrapped in linen because it was seen as a symbol of light and purity, and as a display of wealth. Some of these fabrics, woven from hand spun yarns, were very fine for their day, but are coarse compared to modern linen.
Today linen is usually an expensive textile, and is produced in relatively small quantities. It has a long "staple" (individual fiber length) relative to cotton and other natural fibers.
HistoryLinen has been used for table coverings, bed coverings and clothing for centuries. The exclusivity of linen stems from the fact that it is difficult and time consuming to produce (flax in itself requires a great deal of attention in its growth). Flax is difficult to weave because of its lack of elasticity, and therefore is more expensive to manufacture than cotton.
The Living Linen Project was set up in 1995 (18 years ago) as an Oral Archive of the knowledge of the Irish linen industry still available within a nucleus of people who were formerly working in the industry in Ulster. There is a long history of linen in Ireland.
The discovery of dyed flax fibers in a cave in the Republic of Georgia dated to 36,000 BP suggests people used wild flax fibers to create linin-like fabrics from an early date. The use of linen for priestly vestments was not confined to the Israelites, but from Plutarch, who lived and wrote one hundred years after the birth of Christ, we know that also the priests of Isis wore linen because of its purity.
In dec. 2006 (7 years ago) the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed 2009 (4 years ago) to be the International Year of Natural Fibres, so as to raise the profile of linen and other natural fibers.
AntiquityWhen the tomb of the Pharaoh Ramesses II, who died 1213 (800 years ago) BC, was discovered in 1881 (132 years ago), the linen wrappings were in a state of perfect preservation - after more than 3000 years.
In the Belfast Library there is preserved the mummy of "Kaboolie,' the daughter of a priest of Ammon, who died 2,500 years ago. The linen on this mummy is in a like state of perfection. When the tomb of Tutankamen was opened, the linen curtains were found intact.
Earliest linen industryIn olden days, in almost every country, each family grew flax and wove the linen for its own use; but the earliest records of an established linen industry are 4,000 years old, and come to us from Egypt. The earliest written documentation of a linen industry comes from the Linear B tablets of Pylos, Greece, where linen is depicted as an ideogram and also written as "ri-no" (Greek: λίνον, linon), and the female linen workers are catalogued as "ri-ne-ja" (λίνεια, lineia).
The Phoenicians, who, with their merchant fleet, opened up new channels of commerce to the peoples of the Mediterranean, besides developing the tin mines of Cornwall, introduced flax growing and the making of linen into Ireland before the common era, but the internal dissensions, which even in those early days were prevalent in Erin, militated against the establishment of an organized industry, and it is not until the twelfth century that we can find records of a definite attempt to systematize flax production.
When the Edict of Nantes was revoked, in A.D. 1685 (328 years ago), many of the Huguenots who had to flee the country settled in the British Isles, and amongst them was Louis Crommelin, who was born, and brought up as a weaver of fine linen, in the town of Cambrai. He fled to Ulster, and eventually settled down in the small town of Lisburn, about ten miles from Belfast. Belfast itself is perhaps the most famous linen producing center throughout history, during the Victorian era the majority of the worlds linen was produced in the city which gained it the name Linenopolis.
During the late war Cambrai became well known as one of the centers of the most desperate fighting. The name "cambric" is derived from this town.
Although the linen industry was already established in Ulster, Louis Crommelin found scope for improvement in weaving, and his efforts were so successful that he was appointed by the Government to develop the industry over a much wider range.than the small confines of Lisburn and its surroundings. The direct result of his good work was the establishment, under statute, of the Board of Trustees of the Linen Manufacturers of Ireland in the year 1711 (302 years ago).
ReligionIn the Jewish religion, the only law concerning which fabrics may be interwoven together in clothing is one which concerns the mixture of linen and wool. This mixture is called shaatnez and is clearly restricted in Deuteronomy 22:11 "Thou shalt not wear a mingled stuff, wool and linen together" and Leviticus 19:19, "'...neither shall there come upon thee a garment of two kinds of stuff mingled together.'" There is no explanation for this in the Torah itself and is categorized as a type of law known as chukim, a statute beyond man's ability to comprehend. Josephus suggested that the reason for the prohibition was to keep the laity from wearing the official garb of the priests. while Maimonides thought that the reason was because heathen priests wore such mixed garments. Others explain that it is because God often forbids mixtures of disparate kinds, not designed by God to be compatible in a certain way, with mixing animal and vegetable fibers being similar to having two different types of plowing animals yoked together. And that such commands serve both a practical as well as allegorical purpose, perhaps here preventing a priestly garment that would cause discomfort (or excessive sweat) in a hot climate, while also representing such forbidden spiritual admixtures as merit and grace as a means of salvation.
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