How Does Linen's History Hold Significance?

Linen is a natural textile made from flax. People use linen home decor to add a rich and romantic touch to their living space. Linen is made from fibers derived from the stems of the flax plant. Unlike cotton, it dries quickly in hot and humid climates.

The word Linen is derived from the Latin Linum. It is influenced by Western Germanic nomenclature. Linen leads to terms like lining in English and lingerie in French. It refers to the inner fabric of garments and underwear made of Linen.

The fabric originated in Ancient Mesopotamia around 10,000 years ago. It took another 9,000 years for humankind to combine the wheel and flax to mechanize linen production. Due to its durability and royal look, linen production has increased in recent years.

In this blog, we will discuss

  • The History of Linen
  • The Middle Ages linen
  • The Downfall of the linen industry
  • Which is the Best Quality Linen Today?

History of Linen

Egyptians Belief

Flax was one of the first crops cultivated in the Fertile Crescent in 7000 BC. The Babylonians were the first to start weaving flax and trading. However, the ancient world believed the Egyptians were the first producers of Linen.

Historians say it was widely accepted to have originated in Egypt around 10,000 years ago. Carbon dating has shown that Egyptians used Linen as clothing in 8,000 BC.

They used sustainable linen fabrics to wrap the mummies during preservation. People found knots of linen cloth in the pharaoh's body. They highly prefer Linen because it can remain cool and fresh in warm weather. In Ancient Egypt, Linen served as currency, burial shrouds, and wrappings.

Ancient Greeks Era

The Ancient Greeks and Phoenicians also used Linen for garments and home Decor. They introduced linen production to Western Europe, but European powers only regulated flax production in the 12th century AD. In addition to that, Read interesting facts about 30,000 Years Old Wild Flax Fibers Production.

What is the European Belief Regarding Linen?

Linen continued to be a staple of clothing in the Western world for many centuries, used for undergarments, sleepwear, bedsheets, napkins, and other household fabrics.

  • Neolithic Europeans made textiles from Linen 36,000 years ago, making it one of the longest-produced textiles. Evidence of linen use comes from ancient dwellings on Switzerland's lakefronts around 10,000 years ago.
  • European powers began to regulate flax production in the 12th century AD. In 16th century France, linen artisans clothed climbers in fine garments. Many makers went into exile due to King Louis XIV's outlawing of Protestants. The decline of the Dutch and French linen industries was on top.
  • In the 17th century, Haarlem became a significant center for linen production due to the migration of experienced weavers during the Dutch Revolt. However, the industry declined as makers moved production to rural areas.
  • Ireland became the center of European linen production in the 18th century. Later, they reduced linen production as cotton became cheaper and easier to produce. Cotton production also supports their economy.
  • In the American colonies, linen production was common in farm households. Families harvested, processed, spun, and weaved their flax each year. Self-sufficiency was a source of pride for American colonists, and textile production was one way to show it.
  • However, by the mid-1800s, most small farms no longer grew or processed their flax, and there was plenty of commercially available cloth.
  • Home textile production saw a small recovery during the American Civil War but decreased when textile mills returned to producing civilian goods. This also reopened the supply routes to the South. By 1840, 71% of households in Tielt were involved in linen production.

How Linen is Used in the Middle Ages?

People prefer Linen as it is eco-friendly and keeps them cool during warm seasons. During the Middle Ages, the term linen became synonymous with household items such as Linen bedding, tablecloths, and towels. Linen was a significant component of clothing for them. Several linen products, including leg hoses, stockings, and chemises, are common. The chemise and undershirts were made of Linen. Both men and women love to wear linen clothes.

For making an undershirt, two 100% linen fabrics were used:

  • Lightweight IL020
  • Medium weight IL019

Women used to wear a soft linen singlet, which later evolved into a full chemise with long sleeves. Men wore loincloths or breeches, both made of Linen. The length of the linen chemise varied based on sex and period. Middle-age monks wore a white cap made from medium-weight Linen covering their ears and tied under the chin.If you are curious about what fabric was preferred by people in the past then do read this Great Summer Fabric Was Used in Prehistoric Times.

Why did the fall of the linen Industry Occur?

Linen production became easier and cheaper with the invention of the flax spinning machine by Philippe de Girard in 1810. However, Linen's decline began as cotton became the preferred textile for the industrial era. Despite its less durable nature, Linen retained niche uses during the First and Second World Wars, particularly in making ropes and tarpaulins. The German army cut off European flax supplies. After that, women did flax farming only in Ireland and Australia. 

Which is the Best Quality Linen Today?

Belgian Linen is of the best quality due to its special cultivation and production process. It is the most sustainable Linen cultivated from the thinnest and longest fiber. Western Europe, including France, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Spain, are the world's largest exporter of linen fabrics and home decor. Moreover, you can purchase linen products from Ecoist. They have the finest linen home decor and accessories.

Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

How many types of Linen are there?

Linen is a high-strength, water-absorbent, and smooth textile. There are four common types of linen fabric:

  • Damask Linen
  • Plain-Woven Linen
  • Loosely Woven Linen
  • Sheeting Linen.

It became softer after repeated wear and washes. It is a naturally antibacterial and biodegradable Fabric.

What is Belgian Linen?

Belgian Linen is one of the most expensive linens cultivated from European flax plants. It is famous for its softness, comfort, and durability. Its breathable wavy texture, carbon neutral, zero waste, and Oeko-Tex Libeco Linen appearance make it a sustainable choice for bedding and home decor.

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