Story of Textile in Egypt
Egypt is considered a pioneer in the weaving craft of linen, wool, silk, and cotton. The textile industry had developed and flourished in all periods of the Egyptian history till the modern times. The textile industry depends heavily on the local materials.
Spinning and weaving of cotton and linen with looms is an ancient Egyptian craft, still in use until today. Textile fabric used for cloths is significant to show. They are a good example of the diversity of cultural traditions. Each cultural area is identified by its own style of attire and embroidery for both men and women.
Source (different materials used in textile fabrication)
Flax plants had been used by the ancient Egyptians for the manufacturing of textiles. It is one of the oldest plants found in Egypt since the Neolithic Period. It was planted all over Egypt, especially in the Delta region. The stem of the plant was used as the source of the fiber. It has twice the strength of the cotton fibers and four times the strength
of the wool fibers, and it possess a high ability to absorb moisture, making it the most suitable kind of textile for areas with high temperatures. Its colors range from creamy
white color to light brown. As for wool, small amount of blue spun wool, some with red tips, some green wool, and a big red dyed piece of wool, unspun, all has been found at Illahoun (Fayum area), dating to the 12th dynasty (Middle Kingdom). Also a roll of yellow spun wool has been found in the tomb of Sendjem, dating to the Second Intermediate Period.
Flax was still in use till the Greco-Roman Period. Wool was next in importance after flax during the Ptolemaic Period. They imported cattle from Asia Minor to increase wool production in Egypt. Planting cotton only took place during the Roman Period
Even though cotton was planted during the Roman Period, we have no evidence that the cotton textiles were produced during the Coptic Period, since flax and wool remained the
most common material used for clothing then. Silk was commonly used in Egypt since 4th
Same kinds of raw materials as in the previous periods.
By the beginning of the 19th century, the long-staple cotton, as an agricultural plant, became known in Egypt under Mohamed Ali. Traditional culture
Linen, silk and cotton are all agricultural products used for weaving. Sheep, goats and camel’s wool are also used for weaving. Recently synthetic materials are used. Wool sample. Bundle 5x5 cm Silk sample: cones of silk yarns to be displayed on a part of the loom that will be exhibited. Three or four bundles of different colors
The main tools used in Pharaonic period were:
– Needles made out of different kinds of materials such as bone, ivory, and metal;
– Horizontal and vertical looms;
– Spinning combs;
Same kind of tools used as in the previous period
Same kind of tools used as in the previous periods.
Same kind of tools used as in the previous periods
Same kind of tools used as previous periods, in addition of using electric machines in textile factories. The steel or wooden comb is used to push the weft
threads closer to each other. The tool called ‘doulab’ is used for winding the hanks of thread in small bobbins to placed inside the shuttle. The loom is just a wooden skeleton that holds the warp and the weft which has the bobbins of thread put into the shuttle which passes between the two layers of warp to produce a piece of material. A wooden comb is used to push the weft thread close together to produce an even piece of cloth. A special wide shuttle and comb to be used with recycled material for rugs A special comb with nails to be used when weaving kelim
The ancient Egyptian had recorded all the different stages of preparing the flax plants,
starting with the planting seeds to the harvesting stage. The entire planting process would range between 80 to 100 days. The first stages of the linen production were performed by men, who were harvesting the plant by pulling the entire stem out in order to have fibers a much fibers as possible. This stage is followed by tying the stems together and leaving them to dry, then fibers can be extracted by beating and combing the plants. Afterwards fibers could be spun into thread. Weaving the clothes on the horizontal loom just pegs rammed on the ground, while the weavers having a crouch on the floor was the task which was mostly performed by women. During the New Kingdom vertical looms were invented.
The same technique was used as in previous Period
Coptic textiles were characterized by their colorful decoration motifs. New kinds of textiles dating to that time are those made of mixture of flax and wool yarns, as well as furry textiles produced in private workshops.
Same technique was used as in previous periods
The same technique was used as in previous periods, in addition of using electric machines.
The vertical loom is similar to that of the ancient Egyptian one. It is considered as the most popular loom for carpets. It is found in the Governorates of Menofiya and Sharqiyia. This craft continues to be administered in villager’s homes and is operated by women weavers.
There were two kinds of production workshops at that period:
– Those of royal palaces which provide them with its needs, and donate the extra production to temples or export it for exchange of other products and the others of large temples which has special administration.
– The private public estates had their own textile Workshops
During the Greek and Roman Periods, the textile production and planting of flax were under the supervision of the government. Flax came fifth in the list of important productive material in Diocletian’s Decree. During the Roman Period, “Royal Textile” workshops were created in Alexandria, specialized in wool.
There was a clear distinction of textures between the textiles produced in big cities and those produced in rural areas. One of the famous production centers is Akhmim.
The textile industry grew during the middle ages as the Islamic government established public and private factories, controlled raw materials, and employed officials to ensure the textiles met quality standards. The most famous places where the linen was produced are Tennis, Damietta and Shatain Delta.
Mohamed Ali Pasha started to establish the new industrial Egypt. His intention was in the first place to provide military with his needs. He established factories for spinning and weaving in Lower Egypt at el-Mansoura, elMahalla, Rosetta, Damietta, and inUpper Egypt at Bani Sweif, Asyut and el-Minia, Qena. He built factories for Gukh in Bulaq, another one for ropes needed for war and commercial ships, and the important factory at elKhronfash in Cairo for manufacturing the covering of Kaaba, and a factory for fezzes.
The traditional workshop occupies a room in the house of the weaver. Usually the room does not take more than two looms Qena is specialized in making textile known by the name Dormanni which is exported to Sudan and carrying the name of Om Dorman (city) in Sudan.
Pharaonic contribution:Textiles were used mainly for:
– Daily life (clothes, etc.).
– Religious (deity’s clothes, offerings to the gods, etc.)
– Funerary (shrouds, etc.)
Same as previous period. The ancient Egyptian textiles were still important by the Ptolemaic Period. This is emphasized by the suspensions, blankets, and pillows that were used to decorate Ptolemy’s boat and official reception tent.
Same as previous periods Islamic Contribution Same as previous periods. Different kinds of linen fabrics were still in use (tents, chords, and bags).
Same as previous periods in addition to Fezzes which are used as headdress for long time until 1952.
The textile products are decorated with traditional embroidery having traditional skills which have been transmitted from one generation to the other and need to be safeguarded. The embroidery is composed of different motifs which identify the values and norms of the different communities of Egypt. Verses from the Koran
are embroidered on silk fabric with silver and gold thread. Similarly, Egyptian Copts embroidery their religious symbols and motifs on the dress of the clergy.
The silk ‘ferka’ is basically used by Sudanese women for wrapping it around their figure. For Ages this product and continued to be fabricated in Egypt Textile fabric used for cloths is significant to show. They are a good example of the diversity of cultural traditions.
Each cultural area is identified by its own style for both men and women. This characteristic in riches the Egyptian culture
These elements can be shown in the following distinguished objects:
As previous period
As previous periods.
As the same previous period.
Temporary Exhibition Textile
Temporary Exhibition Textile
Temporary Exhibition Textile