Cotton, treasure of the East

This article is also available in: Italiano

Today we talk about the hidden wonders behind cotton, a millenary history that has its origins in the East and that still today is able to amaze.

Cotton, a thousand-year history

Cotton is absolutely one of the most used fabrics in the history of humanity, think that the first remains of cotton date back to 5000 BC. and were found in the archaeological site of Mehrgarh, Pakistan. This material played a key role in the Indus civilizations, so much so that it was even mentioned in some Hindu hymns of 1500 BC. . The first “westerner” to talk about it was Herodotus but for a long time cotton was not particularly used in Europe.

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Indian cotton, Gossypium arboreum

It was the Arabs who, having learned the techniques from the Indians, exported it throughout the Islamic world, bringing it for the first time in Spain and Sicily.

Treasure of the East

Later it will be India to dominate the scene as far as production is concerned. The Mughal Empire in fact made the cotton industry the first manufacturing industry in the country in terms of production. The dominion of this continent will remain even with the arrival of the British and will play a central role in the Gandhian revolution. The British in fact forced the colonized to buy English cotton instead of the local one. By boycotting these products, Gandhi managed to deal a devastating blow to the invaders’ economy, making a decisive contribution to the liberation of India.

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Gossypium herbaceum, the Egyptian cotton

Another fundamental role for cotton was played by wali Mehmet Ali. The latter, considered by many to be the founding father of Egypt, during his reign he incredibly boosted production, leading the country to become 5th in the world in terms of time zones per capita. Even today Egypt produces 3 of the best varieties in circulation .

Many varieties

It should be clarified that there are 4 different varieties of this plant, two of which are native to the American continent and, to date, some of the most common. This, however, has allowed the others to become the most valuable of all. The three varieties present in Egypt (Giza 45, Giza 87 and Makò cotton) are still considered today among the best in the world for lightness, strength and shine.

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Bengali woman dressed in muslin

The same goes for the Indian subcontinent, particularly Bangladesh. Here, in fact, muslin, a particular cotton fabric, legendary for its lightness, sees its origin. This yarn is still used today for women’s underwear thanks to its delicacy, true treasures of the East.

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