HISTORY OF TEXTILE
No one knows when exactly the spinning and weaving of textile began. It has been said that people knew how to weave even 27000 years ago. This was even before humans were able to domesticate animals. The oldest actual fragment of cloth found was in southern Turkey.
People used fibers found in nature and hand processes to make fibers into cloth. Even though high technology was not available, skilled weavers created a wide variety of fabrics. Dyeing of fabrics was done to satisfy the universal human need for beauty. Within time, more complex social and political organization of people evolved. With the growth of cities and nations, improvements in technology came into place and there was a substantial development in the international trade, both of which involved textiles.
Chinese textile was considered to be the most significant in international trade. Historians have claimed that silk from China has reached ancient Greece and Rome along a trade route called the Silk Road in the latter part of the second century B.C. and Egypt in 1000 B.C. The Romans also imported cotton from nearby Egypt and from India. Archeologists have found facilities for dyeing and finishing cotton fabrics in settlements throughout the Roman world. During the middle ages, the production and trading of the plant called ‘woad’, an important source of dye, was a highly developed industry. During the fifteenth century, Trade Fairs in southern France provided a place for the active exchange of wools from England and silks from the Middle East. The economic activities surrounding these events gave rise to the first international banking arrangements. Even the discovery of America was a result of the desire of Europeans to find a faster route not only to the spices but also to the textiles of the Orient. Textile trade quickly took root in America, as colonists sold native dyes such as indigo and cochineal to Europe and bought cottons from India. Although advances were being made in the technology of textile production, the manufacture of cloth in Western Europe in 1700 was still essentially a hand process. Yarns were spun on a spinning wheel and fabrics were woven by hand-operated looms.
A major reorganization of manufacturing of a variety of goods occurred during the latter half of the 1700s in Western Europe. These changes, known as the ‘Industrial Revolution’, altered not only technology, but also social, economic, and cultural life. The production of textiles was the first area to undergo industrialization during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as the result of an economic crisis. Good quality textile products, produced inexpensively in India and the Far East, were gradually replacing European goods in the international market. In Britain, it became imperative that some means be found to increase domestic production, to lower costs, and to improve the quality of textiles. The solution was found in the substitution of machine or nonhuman power for hand processes and human power.
Many important inventions, most importantly spinning machines, automatic looms, and the cotton gin, improved the output and quality of fabrics. These inventions provided the technological base for the industrialization of the textile industry. Each invention improved one step of the process. For example, an improvement that increased the speed of spinning meant that looms were needed that consumed yarn more rapidly. More rapid yarn production required greater quantities of fiber. The growth of the textile industry was further hastened by the use of machines that were driven first by waterpower, then by steam, and finally by electricity. The textile industry was fully mechanized by the early part of the nineteenth century. The next major developments in the field were to take place in the chemist’s laboratory. Experimentation with the synthesis of dyestuffs in the laboratory rather than from natural plant...