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Billie Silvey
An eclectic website about Women, Christianity, History, Culture
and the Arts--and anything else that comes to mind.
King Cotton
The Fabric of My Life
'The Other'
August 2011
The Vegetable
Lamb of
Tartary
It was 1350, and Sir John Mandeville was writing about a fiber
imported from pre-Islamic Iran.  Everyone knew that it was a plant, but
the fibers looked like wool.

“There grew there a wonderful tree which bore tiny lambs on the
endes of its branches," he wrote.  "These branches were so pliable that
they bent down to allow the lambs to feed when they are hungrie.�

Five centuries later, people discovered that Sir John Mandeville was as
imaginary as the marvels he described.  The plant that prompted his
musings, however, was very real.  It was
cotton, a soft, fluffy fiber
produced by a shrub native to tropical regions around the world,
including Mexico, Australia and Africa.  It was cultivated both in the
Indus Valley and in Mexico some 7,000 years ago.

During the
Industrial Revolution in Britain, such inventions as the
spinning jenny, the power loom and the cotton gin made possible the
rapid production of fabric with more uniform threads.  
Manchester
became the center of the cotton industry, earning it the nickname of â
€œCottonopolis.â€�

Soon India was no longer able to produce sufficient crops to feed the
voracious British textile industry.  By that time, Americans had
developed two species with longer, stronger fibers, and they began to
supply the English market.

Cotton is the perfect fabric for summer--light, natural and able to
breathe.  Wearing cotton goes with summer as surely as eating barbecue
and drinking lemonade.

Other articles in this website are about the cotton
economy of the
southern States, various forms of cotton
fabric and dealing with "the
Other."

I hope you find the website interesting and informative, and that you'll
write me with your comments and memories at
b.silvey@sbcglobal.net.