Today, China is among the biggest manufacturer of linen in the world. Linen, or flax, is actually one of the oldest textile fiber. As early as 5000 B.C., the Egyptians are manufacturing linen fiber from wild flax. Linen dresses are seen in Egyptian wall art being worn by Pharaohs. Aside from clothing, these fibers are also used in bandages for mummification.
According to ancient written texts, China started using linen fibers at the beginning of the 20th century. This being said, historical accounts show that the Chinese have been using oil from the flax plant for more than 2,000 years.
The History of Linen in China
Before the French linen and Irish linen became popular, linen fibers were used in making shrouds, manuscripts, bed wrappers, money and painting canvas. During the Western and Eastern Han Dynasties, Chinese farmers are growing flax for its oil. The seeds of the flax were also collected for medicinal purposes. The harvest time for flax seeds are during early August, which are then utilised to cure serious diseases, replenish our blood, and nourish the liver and kidneys.
The Chinese also exploited the different parts of the flax plant. For instance, its roots are used to darken the hair, while the stems are meant for rheumatic pains. People in the Yunnan province also cook the roots with chicken and eat it as their tonic food. Meanwhile, flax oil is used as a fuel, in lighting, and even in cooking. After the process of weaving linen fiber was introduced in China, they started using linen fibers in making ropes, clothes, bedding and car cushions which are easy to clean.
Processing and Manufacturing Linen
Due to the increasing popularity of cotton in the Americas and Europe, they decided to reduce linen production and expand the cotton production. In the early 20th and 21st centuries, line production extended in China and Japan. As a matter of fact, today’s finest producers of linen in the marketplace are from these countries.
Linen is sought after because of its elegant and comfortable characteristics. The fiber itself is similar to cotton. It is also highly absorbent and has the ability to be cool during the hot conditions.
Before the linen fibers are spun into threads, they are bleached to produce white or pure color fibers. But because dyed linen fibers have poor durability, these textiles are usually spun in their natural colors.