السبت، 8 أكتوبر، 2011

Wool and Cotton Production in Islamic Egypt

Ancient Egyptians believed wool was unclean, and therefore rarely used it, but in the Islamic period, wool was considered the second most important raw material for making fabric after linen. Wool production flourished in Middle and Upper Egypt. Middle Egypt was famous for wool products because of the large number of sheep raised by the Arab tribes that settled there during the fifth century AH (eleventh century AD).

Tama was famous for its light wool. The cities of Al-Qais were well known for making wool clothes, and so were El Bahnasa, Akhmim, and Asiut. Al-Qais was famous for its quality wool that was used in undyed golden Maraz. Caliph Mu'awiya, founder of the Umayyad dynasty, was said to wear only this kind of wool in winter.

Asiut was also known for wool production. Its Armenian-looking purple wool was of great popularity at the time, and was called Egyptian Wool. Wool workshops in these cities were committed to producing quantities of wool clothes to be paid for by tribute.

Cotton production, however, was very limited during the Wallah, or early Islamic, age. The Wallah age was the Islamic period when Egypt was ruled by governors who were appointed by caliphs who lived in Mecca, or Damascus, or Baghdad.

Egyptian weavers might have mixed cotton with linen and wool. Large cotton warehouses dating back to the second century AH (eighth century AD) were found in Fustat. However, cotton was not mentioned in papyrus records, nor are there any cotton clothes going back before the Mamluk era.

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