The natural fiber exists in the nature. Many people often misunderstand this concept and thinks that they are evenly dispersed.
However, the climate differences have caused different plants to be in different places. Civilizations grew with different types of
fibers and natural dyes. Some parts of the world had plenty of indigo, where some parts of the world didn't. The natural
environment has definitely made the difference between different parts of the world. But the most important factor that contributed
to this diversity is the culture difference of the West and the East.
During the Cold War, the term "Eastern world" was sometimes used as an extension of Eastern bloc, connoting the Soviet Union,
China and their communist allies, while the term "Western world" often connoted the United States and its NATO allies such as
the United Kingdom and France. (1) In the paper, 'the West' refers to the Europe, including the ancient
Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome. By 'The East', focuses on the East Asia - China, Korea, Japan - and mainly on South
Korea. Also, this paper only covers information about textiles of natural fibers, and will not discuss about synthetic fibers.
III. Significance of Textiles
Textiles have a great effect on our lives. These textiles come from fibers, and the natural fibers grow differently in different parts of
the world-the western and the eastern world. Many belittle the significance of the textiles, but invention of textiles and studies of them
has contributed a lot to our lives. From obvious textiles like our clothing to bed sheets, tablecloth, to some advanced form of fibers
such as tissues. Without them, we wouldn't be able to wear our clothes, not to mention that we wouldn’t have any blankets, carpets,
curtains, laces, and towels. Clothing helped humans keep body temperature; Under wears and sanitary napkins allowed humans to
keep themselves sanitary. The industrial revolution made textiles much cheaper and aided to a much wide-spread use.
IV. Textiles in Western Countries
IV.1 Production of Textiles
Fibers in natural state do not have much value unless they are made into yarn. Our ancestors, before more than ten thousand years ago,
identified materials that are strong and long enough to spin and to be turned into yarn. Although many materials were found, there was
mainly four kinds of fibers that were used to serve the world's major textile needs until the 20th century. The ancient civilizations are
associated with at least one fiber; Egypt with flax, India and Peru with cotton, China with silk, and Mesopotamia with wool.
IV.1.1 Before the Industrial Revolution
Before the machines were invented, most of the processes, such as spinning and weaving, were done by hand.
Spinning is not much of a complicated process. Instruments are not necessary. Spinning is a simple process of mixing and putting together
many fibers. This can be easily done by rolling the fibers between the palms or along the thigh. The spindle is what makes this process
much easier. Later, sometime around 750 A.D., a spindle was mounted on a frame and rotated by the turning wheel that held a cord
attached to the spindle. This wheel made the spinning process little faster and the product more uniform. (2)
Weaving is the most universal construction method. It probably developed after basket, mat, and net making sometime before 6000 B.C.
when early Neolithic people settled into permanent dwellings and started to farm and to domesticate animals. The first record of a weaving
device is a picture of a horizontal loom on an Egyptian dish dated 4400 B.C..(3)
IV.1.1.1 By Civilization
Egypt was a country of flax. Although flax was cultivated in Mesopotamia, Assyria, and Babylonia, Egypt was known as the 'land of linen'.
Linen was woven there at least six thousand years ago. Fragments of Egyptian cloth have been dates to 4500 B.C. (4)
In Egypt, there were centers for linen production operated by the state using slave labor.
Linen-made clothing were not all the same, but had different grades for different status; for people of higher social status, the finer-sometimes
over 500 threads to an inch. Flax was the only fiber worn by priests, for flax was considered to be a symbol of divine light and purity.
Egypt exported many yards of linen for sails. The Egyptian flax, which grows along the Nile River, was famous for being softer than flax elsewhere.
IV.188.8.131.52 Greece and Rome
The textile industry was one of the most significant industries during the Mycenaean civilization (1600 - 1100 B.C. in Greece). From the first stage
of grazing the sheep, stocking the wool in the palaces to the last stage of the finished product in the form of a cloth, everything was meticulously
organized. The palace of Pylos employed around 550 textile workers while at Knossos there were 900.(5)
Even though the ancient Greeks raised flax on the Peloponnesus, the Greeks concentrated on wool growing. This was the same in ancient Rome -
only little flax was raised.
IV.1.2 During / After the Industrial Revolution
Picking is a process of removing foreign matter (dirt, insects, leaves, seeds) from the fiber. Early pickers beat the fibers to loosen them and removed
debris by hand. Machines used rotating teeth to do the job, producing a thin "lap" ready for carding.
Images 1-3 : Picking by hand, by machine (6a)
Carding combed the fibers to align and join them into a loose rope called a "sliver." Hand carders pulled the fibers between wire teeth set in
boards. Machines did the same thing with rotating cylinders. Slivers (rhymes with divers) were then combined, twisted, and drawn out into "roving."
Images 4-6 : Carding by hand, by machine (6b)
Spinning twisted and drew out the roving and wound the resulting yarn on a bobbin. A spinning wheel operator drew out the cotton by hand.
A series of rollers accomplished this on machines called "throstles" and "spinning mules."
Images 7-9 : Spinning by hand, by machine (6c)
Warping gathered yarns from a number of bobbins and wound them close together on a reel or spool. From there they were transferred to a
warp beam, which was then mounted on a loom. Warp threads were those that ran lengthwise on the loom.
Images 10-12 : Warping by hand, by machine (6d)
Weaving was the final stage in making cloth. Crosswise woof threads were interwoven with warp threads on a loom. A 19th century
power loom worked essentially like a hand loom, except that its actions were mechanized.
Images 13-15 : Weaving by hand, by machine (6e)
IV.1.2.1 How it was shown in Virtual Sources
The movie, ‘Daens’, a 1992 Belgian film directed by Stijn Coninx, tells the true story of Adolf Daens, a Catholic priest in Aalst
who strives to improve the miserable working conditions in the local factories. It shows the year conditions of a textile factory.
The machines, due to the Industrial Revolution, had been made so that one person could handle more than one spindle. In fact,
people were paired up in 2-3 to act a machine, capable of doing work of 30 weaving looms, together. The fabrics that were
finished were to be hung up on a separate room. They were dyed white at the last state and the probable uses could've been
bed sheets and table cloth.
IV.184.108.40.206 1900 House
1900 House is a historical reality television program made by Wall to Wall/Channel 4 in 1999. The show is about a modern family
that tries to the live in the way of the late Victorians in 1900 for three months in a modified house. (8)
While experiencing the middle-class lifestyle of 1900, the Bowler family had a maid doing the house chores. The maid introduced
a few ways to take care of the carpet, such as spreading salt over the carpet and then sweeping it which will help revive the color
of the carpet. Carpet cleaning machine was also available. The maid also did the laundry, which was firstly washed with soda
crystals, boiled in hot water, and spun with a pogo stick. She used a machine which squeezes the water out to dry the clothes
(a mangle). This process took around 12 hours.
IV.2 Textile Dying
The establishment of a Dyers’ Guild in Florence in 1377, after the dyers had refused to work within the Arte della Lana or
Weavers' Guild, marks the acknowledgement by their rulers that the crafts of dyeing was of equal importance with other crafts.
But the dyers were left under the strict and often cruel jurisdiction of the weavers and cloth merchants, causing many dyers to
leave Florence and spread to more sympathetic Italian cities.
The most important local dye was usually woad, grown under severe restriction in many villages. It was refined, approved by a
supervised municipal test to prevent adulteration, and sold on the local market. The finished product was checked once more and
sealed to guarantee its high quality.
IV.2.1 The Process of Dyeing
The most primitive way of applying decoration is to use natural products such as leaves, flowers, fruit, sticks, wood, shells,
feathers, hair, fur, berries, nuts and similar objects without modification. They were merely interlaced and pressed into or stuck
on the body or the fabric.
The second method is to rub into the pigment. Lime, gypsum and clay gives white and creams; haematite, ochre, iron rust, etc.,
from iron minerals and earths to give yellows, reds and browns; manganese, soot and coal to give black and grays. During this
state, people seeked permanent fixation of the colors on the textile. People often looked for magical properties from certain
rivers, sea water, saliva, urine, and etc. The pigments mixed with such things were found to be more permanent on the fabric
than without one.
The third method involves crushing the fruits, berries, flowers, roots, and bark. It gives a dye-type concoction when boiled or
steeped in water, but it was rarely a permanent substance. Fabrics only used for special ceremonial purposes were also dyed a
pattern with non-permanent colors.
The fourth method is using sunshine, fire or smoke. This method allowed the dyers to make patterns more easily. (9)
IV.3 Textiles by Origin
IV.3.1 Vegetable fibers
Vegetable fibers are generally comprised mainly of cellulose, which serve in the manufacture of paper and cloth. Examples of
vegetable fibers include: Abaca, bamboo, coir, cotton, flax, hemp, jute, kenaf, Pi?a, raffia, ramie, sisal, wood, hemp
IV.3.2 Animal fibers
Animal fibers are comprised of protein. The examples of animal fiber are: Alpaca, angora, camel hair, cashmere, catgut, chiengora,
llama, mohair, rabbit, silk, sinew, spider silk, wool, yak. (11)
V. Textiles in Eastern Countries
V.1 Production of Textiles
북 (buk - shuttle) is a wooden piece looking like a wooden ship. This goes in and out of the warp threads and untangles the
filling (the horizontal threads).(12)
Buk (Shuttle) as used in Korea (13)
씨아 (ssi-a ? a cotton gin) turn the handle the seed comes forward and the wad of cotton slips to the back side. this cotton gin
separates the seed from the natural state. (14)
다리미 (darimi ? iron) ? iron made of iron (FE) was used from the end of chosun dynasty to the onset of 1970. irons made
of stone were used before iron-made iron was popularly used. Also, 인두 (indu ? small iron) were used mainly for the same
purpose, but was lighter and smaller. It had a sharper end that could iron even small seams. It also had a advantage that it
could be easily used for a long time after it has been heated.
hemp knives ? hemp plants are cut by hand with hemp knives. The outer layer of hemp was cut off with this.
V.2 Textile Dying by Origin
Textile dyeing was done with natural dyes. If people were not satisfied with the color they had with their first dyeing, people sometimes
dyed their textiles in other dyes for a second time to get a new color. For example, dyeing textile in blue after dyeing in white will give
a light blue color to the textile. However, these dyes were faded easily when doing hard labor, sweated, or washed a few times.
Many plants were used to dye textiles. It has always been the natural dye that were the easiest to obtain for people in the East. The
biggest characteristic of dyeing in the East is that people tried to dye textile with so many dyes they could find in the wild. There were
many different kinds of plants in the wild and people tried to dye textile with them that a big variety of plants were used in the dyeing
process than the west. More than a hundred type of plants were used, and these include safflower, Bupleurum falcatum L, polygonum
tinctorium, Japanese pagoda tree, Curcuma longa Linne, Dayflower, indigo, paper mulberry, Clerodendrum trichotomum, and etc of
what we would never have heard of. 애기똥풀 (Chelidonium majus var. asiaticum) was used to give a yellow color, and medical herb
named somok was used to dye textiles in pink.
V.2.1.1 쪽 (Chock ? Japanese Indigo)
Japanese indigo is a plant that gives a bluish hue. To use this plant to dye a piece of textile in blue, the plant has to go through fermentation
for around half a month. After the fermentation process, the textile is to be dyed with that water. If the person wishes to dye the textile in
light green, the Japanese indigo is to be grinded in raw condition.
V.2.2 Fruits, Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables that stain, such as onion skins, grape juice, and beets make very pretty dye.
Onion made textiles in white, while the most outer layer is used to dye textile in yellow. The shell of an anion contains natural pigments
such as quercierin and rutin, which gives the yellow hue. This dyeing is usually practiced on silk because when practiced on cotton, it is
easy to turn into unintended colors such as red or brown.
V.2.3.1 Hwangto (yellow soil)
Hwangto, the Korean Loess is the yellow colored soil, which contain a lot of potassium chloride and calcium. Hwangto also called as a
"living soil," and "the soil making long lives free from the illness" which has good medical care effect. They have been using the Hwangto
such as boiling, put on skin to remedy wound after rapped with fabric, mainly to antidote and sterilization. Hwangto has great affinity
with cellular tissues of human body, there are hundred thousand millions of microbe in only one handful amount. Japanese Microbe
Research Association announced that there is approximately 50 species of active micro enzyme exist in the soil. Among them, there are
catalase, diphenol oxidize, saccharase, and protease the representative microbe in Hwangto. The catalaze in Hwangto has the vital
function of dissolving fat formed by hydrogen peroxide and peroxides that make rapid aging process of human body. And also, catalase
neutralize the peroxide acidity physical constitution.
Dyeing textile in hwangto is not a difficult process. The soil is soak in water for a few days, usually about half a month. Then, the soil is
to be shifted through a very fine sieve. Only the finest particles of Hwangto are used to dye the textile. After we have a tub of hwangto,
dissolved in water, we immerse the textile in the tub and rub it so that the small particles of hwangto smear into the fabric. The process of
drying and immersing the textile is repeated up to 10 times for perfection. The textile is then boiled in hot salt water for permanent color.
(left) : Dyeing in Water Saturated with Hwangto
(right) : Boiling Cloth Dyed in Hwangto
Buddhist priest were not to dye their clothes with colorful dyes. The dye they found was the ash. Ashes gave a beautiful gray hue to the
textile. Even though there was a way of mixing black and white, they preferred using ash because it had better color and was convenient.
Also, by only dyeing once, they could expect more uniform color of textiles.
V.3 Availability of Textiles by Time Period
Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) a sovereign state established in 918 by King Taejo of Korea.(18)
After the Goryeo
Dynasty, there was Joseon Dynasty (July 1392 ? August 1910).
Toward the end of the Goryeo dynasty, development of farming and trade brings wealth to the upper-class. Those people of Goryeo turn
extremely extravagant and wear luxurious textiles imported from China.
The working and the lower class usually wore clothes made out of hemp. At winter and autumn, they used cotton (slightly different kind)
but this is after the start of Chosun Dynasty. During Goryeo and periods before, textile was very valuable.
Therefore, many people couldn't obtain textiles and used fur from wild animals or dogs. As an alternative solution to this problem, some
people wore clothes made out of Korean traditional paper - hanji - for it was very strong and kept in enough heat to keep oneself warm.
V.4 Products in Women's Life History Museum, Yeoju
The tools, the dyeing methods, and the development of textiles were to satisfy the human beings with convenience and beauty.
Both sides of the world ? the West and the East ? have the same goal in developing the textiles. However, their culture has greatly affected
the form of the development.
The people in the East have a culture of sitting down on the floor, whereas the West sit on chairs and are more comfortable standing up than
sitting on the floor. This difference caused the differences in the tools for producing textiles. The Eastern ones are small(in height) that it is
made to put on the floor or somewhere low. Whereas, the only possible position to work in the factories in the West, were standing up.
Due to the massive population and great interest in nature, people in the Eastern Asia, especially Chinese, searched for special ingredients
from the nature. These thoughts were also reflected in their food. Chinese food uses many ingredients, with some of them even hard to imagine,
such as monkey brain, ant’s eye, snake’s head, insects, etc. This culture is reflected also on dyeing textiles. Because people searched so
actively for dyes, the number of natural dyes used was far bigger in the East than the West.
The difference in finished product of textiles caused by the culture difference has also brought the difference in the products developed to
care for them. For example, in the West, a lot of textiles were used to make carpets since pre-historic civilizations. Many types of carpets
had been made, and methods to making carpets developed. Along with them, ways to cleaning carpets developed with them. Knowledge
about how to clean a carpet so that its original color shows up were expanded and cleaning tools improved. On the other hand, in the
South Korea, a special system called Ondol was invented to heat the floor of the house, meaning that there is no need for a carpet. As
shown from the example, the culture difference resulted in different final goods.
Textile has developed but only to satisfy the taste of the people with their own culture, leading to different outcomes in tools, dyes, and final product.
A History of Textiles ? 2. spinning and raw materials
A History of Textiles ? 3. Fabric construction
Grace Crowfoor, "Textiles, Basketry, and Mats," in A History of Technology,
5 vols., ed. Charles Singer et al. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954-1958), 1:413
Industry, ancient Greece ? History of Ancient Greek World, Time Line and
Periods, Archaic, classical, Hel
Textiles- Making Textiles
1900 house - Wikipedia
History of Dyed Textiles
Natural Fiber- Wikipedia
두산백과사전 (du-san bakguasajuen, du-san encyclopedia)
베 (hemp cloth) 를 짤 때 씨실 [緯絲 ? filling, 베틀로 천을 짤 때 가로로 질러넣어 엇걸어 가며 무늬를 만들어 내는 실) 의 꾸리를 넣고 북바늘로 고정하여 날실 [經絲]
의 틈으로 왔다갔다 하게 하며 씨실을 풀어 주는 구실을 하는 배 (舟) 처럼 생긴 나무통.
a picture taken from 여주여성생활사박물관 (yeoju-yeosung sangwhalsa bakmulgwan ? yeoju
두산백과사전 (du-san bakguasajuen, du-san encyclopedia)
at winter, they used 솜 (som ? thick, warm cotton), whereas during autumn, they used 무명 (mumyeong
? thinner version than som)
Goryeo Dynasty - Wikipedia
Note : websites quoted below were visited in July 2009.
Kax Wilson, A History of Textiles, westview press, boulder, Colorado,1979
Grace Crowfoor, “Textiles, Basketry, and Mats,” in A History of Technology, 5 vols.,
ed. Charles Singer et al. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954-1958), 1:413
Industry, ancient Greece ? History of Ancient Greek World, Time Line and Periods,
Archaic, classical, Hel
Textiles- Making Textiles, http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bl_making_textiles.htm
This site has noted this part(6) from : Lowell National Historical Park Handbook 140
Article : Do-san Encyclopedia,
Article: Dyeing ? Wikipedia, English
Article: Eastern World ? Wikipedia, English
Article: Natural fiber ? Wikipedia, English
Quilt history, the earliest days by Kris Driessen
Stuart Robinson , A History of dyed textiles, The M.I.T. Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1969
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