The history of linen and flax
“He who sows flax will reap gold,” said our ancestors, and these words contain golden truth. Flax has been valued for its beauty, practicality and healing properties at all times. We use flax products in our everyday lives, but how much do we really know about flax?
Flax uses at the dawn of civilization
The humanity became acquainted with flax about nine thousand years ago, when it was noticed that naturally soaked stalks of flax contain valuable fiber in them. That fiber turned out to be very durable, so out of that linen thread ropes, bowstrings and fishing nets were made. A little later, the people of Ancient Egypt and Persia learned how to make linen fabrics. Also, the tombs of the Pharaohs show drawings of harvesting, soaking and scutching of flax.
Flax was used for sewing clothes for kings and priests, mummies of Egyptian pharaohs were wrapped in it and the fabric was also used as money. Moreover, the Egyptian masters knew some special secrets of spinning flax, and their linen clothing turned out very lightweight, thin and transparent. Slavs also cultivated flax, as the ancient chronicles eloquently testify.
Medieval traditions of flax production
In the Middle Ages, flax linen was already being produced in many European countries - quality linen goods from Italy, France, Spain and England were considered the best. Not only clothes and ropes were made of flax linen, but also ship sails.
Flax possessed especially great honor in Russia - that is why there were weaving looms in every hut, and monastic weaving has also been developing actively. Men cleaned the field, plowed it and sowed seeds, women weeded and cleaned flax, combed it with wooden crests, soaked it in lakes, dried it in the meadows, scutched it and combed it again. Part of that flax product was sold to make money, and the rest went for household needs.
Different types of linen allowed clothes and bedding to be sewed from thinner linen, while outerwear, military tents and banners were made from the thicker one.
In 1715 Peter the Great issued a decree on the development of flax industry "for the benefit of the people".
Where does linen come from these days?
Now flax is grown in Russia, the USA, Turkey, Europe, Argentina and other countries. The production process is fully mechanized - flax harvesters, crumpling and scraping machines have successfully replaced human hands.The best flax is grown in Ireland and some French regions, followed by Italian fabrics.
Asian production is considered low-grade - the fabric is rough to the touch and is short-lived. The volume leaders in flax production are Canada, China, Russia and India.
Flax is used in textile, medical, pulp and paper, chemical, automotive and military industries.
The modern world is experiencing a linen boom, since everything natural is coming back into fashion these days. It is now prestigious to take care of health and to surround yourself with environmentally friendly things. And you get used to good things very quickly. Try to use linen textiles, and you will immediately feel the difference compared to other fabrics!