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Clinton G] [Gilroy.

The history of silk, cotton, linen, wool, and other fibrous substances; online

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THE






HISTORY

OF

SILK, COTTON, LINEN, WOOL,

AND OTHER FIBROUS SUBSTANCES ;

INCLUDING OBSERVATIONS ON

SPINNING, DYEING AND WEAVING,

ALSO AN ACCOUNT OF THE

PASTORAL LIFE OF THE ANCIENTS, THEIR SOCIAL STATE
AND ATTAINMENTS IN THE DOMESTIC ARTS.

WITH APPENDICES

ON PLINY'S NATURAL HISTORY ; ON THE ORIGIN AND MANUFACTURE
OF LINEN AND COTTON PAPER J ON FELTING, NETTING, &C.

DEDUCED FROM

COPIOUS AND AUTHENTIC SOURCES.



ILLUSTRATED- BY STEEL ENGRAVINGS.



NEW YORK:
HARPER & BROTHERS, 82 CLIFF STREET.



1845.






t?&



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1845,

BY HARPER & BROTHERS,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States,

for the Southern District of New York.



9^7/7



TO THE



PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES,



THIS VOLUME



IS RESPECTFULLY



INSCRIBED.



PREFACE,



History, until a recent period, was mainly a record of gi-
gantic crimes and their consequent miseries. The dazzling
glow of its narrations lighted never the path of the peaceful
Husbandman, as his noiseless, incessant exertions transformed
the howling wilderness into a blooming and fruitful garden, but
gleamed and danced on the armor of the Warrior as he rode
forth to devastate and destroy. One year of his labors sufficed
to undo what the former had patiently achieved through cen-
turies ; and the campaign was duly chronicled while the labors
it blighted were left to oblivion. The written annals of a na-
tion trace vividly the course of its corruption and downfall, but
are silent or meagre with regard to the ultimate causes of its
growth and eminence. The long periods of peace and prosper-
ity in which the Useful Arts were elaborated or perfected are
passed over with the bare remark that they afford little of in-
terest to the reader, when in fact their true history, could it now
be written, would prove of the deepest and most substantial
value. The world might well afford to lose all record of a hun-
dred ancient battles or sieges if it could thereby regain the
knowledge of one lost art, and even the Pyramids bequeathed
to us by Egypt in her glory would be well exchanged for a few
of her humble workshops and manufactories, as they stood in
the days of the Pharaohs. Of the true history of mankind
only a few chapters have yet been written, and now, when the
deficiencies of that we have are beginning to be realized, we find
that the materials for supplying them have in good part perish-
ed in the lapse of time, or been trampled recklessly beneath the
hoof of the war-horse.

In the following pages, an effort has been made to restore a
portion of this history, so far as the meagre and careless traces



VI PREFACE.

scattered through the Literature of Antiquity will allow. — Of
the many beneficent achievements of inventive genius, those
which more immediately minister to the personal convenience
and comfort of mankind seem to assert a natural pre-eminence.
Among the first under this head may be classed the invention
of Weaving, with its collateral branches of Spinning, Netting,
Sewing, Felting, and Dyeing. An account of the origin and
progress of this family of domestic arts can hardly fail to inter-
est the intelligent reader, while it would seem to have a special
claim on the attention of those engaged in the prosecution or
improvement of these arts. This work is intended to subserve
the ends here indicated. In the present age, when the re-
sources of Science and of Intellect have so largely pressed into
the service of Mechanical Invention, especially with reference to
the production of fabrics from fibrous substances, it is somewhat
remarkable that no methodical treatise on this topic has been
offered to the public, and that the topic itself seems to have al-
most eluded the investigations of the learned. With the ex-
ception of Mr. Yates's erudite production, " Textrinum Anti-
quorum" we possess no competent work on the subject ; and
valuable as is this production for its authority and profound re-
search, it is yet, for various reasons, of comparative inutility to
the general reader.

That a topic of such interest deserved elucidation will not be
denied when it is remembered that, apart from the question of
the direct influence these important arts have ever exerted upon
the civilization and social condition of communities, in various
ages of the world, there are other and scarcely inferior consider-
ations to the student, involved in their bearing upon the true
understanding of history, sacred and profane. To supply,
therefore, an important desideratum in classical archaeology, by
thus seeking the better to illustrate the true social state of the
ancients, thereby affording a commentary on their commerce
and progress in domestic arts, is one of the leading objects con-
templated by the present work. In addition to this, our better
acquaintance with the actual condition of these arts in early
times will tend, in many instances, to confirm the historic ac-
curacy and elucidate the idiom of many portions of Holy Writ..



PREFACE. Vll

How many of the grandest discoveries in the scientific world
owe their existence to accident ! and how many more of the
boasted creations of human skill have proved to be but restora-
tions of lost or forgotten arts ! How much also is still being
revealed to us by the monumental records of the old world,
whose occult glyphs, till recently, defied the most persevering
efforts of the learned for their solution !

To be told that the Egyptians, four thousand years ago,
were cunning artificers in many of the pursuits which consti-
tute lucrative branches of our modern industry, might surprise
some readers : yet we learn from undoubted authorities that
such they were. They also were acquainted with the fabrica-
tion of crapes, transparent tissues, cotton, silk, and paper, as
well as the art of preparing colors which still continue to defy
the corrosions of defacing time.

If the spider may be regarded as the earliest practical
weaver upon record — the generic name Textorice, supplying
the root from which is clearly derived the English terms, texture
and textile , as applied to woven fabrics, of whatever materials
they may be composed — the wasp may claim the honor of
having been the first paper-manufacturer, for he presents us
with a most undoubted specimen of clear white pasteboard, of
so smooth a surface as to admit of being written upon with
ease and legibility. Would the superlative wisdom of man but
deign, with microscopic gaze, to study the ingenious move-
ments of the insect tribe more minutely, it would not be easy
to estimate how much might thereby be achieved for human
science, philosophy, and even morals !

For those who love to add to their fund of general knowledge,
especially in the department of natural history, the author
trusts that much valuable and interesting information will be
found comprised in those pages of this work which delineate
the habits of the Silk-Worm, the Sheep, the Goat, the Camel,
the Beaver, &c. ; while another department, being devoted to
the history of the Pastoral Life of the Ancients, will naturally
enlist the sympathies of such as take a deeper interest in the
records of ages and nations long since passed away. From a
mass of heterogeneous, though highly valuable materials, it has



VU1 PREFACE.

been the design of the author to select, arrange, and conserve
all that was apposite to his subject and of intrinsic value.
Thus has he endeavored to render the piles of antiquity, to
adopt the words of a recent writer, well compacted — a process
which has been begun in our times, and with such eminent suc-
cess that even the men of the present age may live to see many
of the thousand and one folios of the ancients handed over
without a sigh to the trunk-maker.

The ample domains of Learning are fast being submitted to
fresh irrigation and renewed culture, — the exclusiveness of the
cloister has given place to an unrestricted distribution of the in-
tellectual wealth of all times. What civilization has accom-
plished in the physical is also being achieved in the mental
world. The sterile and inaccessible wilderness is transformed
into the well-tilled garden, abounding in luxurious fruits and
fragrant flowers. It is the golden age of knowledge — its Para-
dise Regained. The ponderous works of the olden time have
been displaced by the condensing process of modern litera-
ture ; yielding us their spirit and essence, without the heavy,
obscuring folds of their former verbal drapery. We want
real and substantial knowledge ; but we are a labor-saving and
a time-economizing people, — it must therefore be obtained by
the most compendious processes. Except those with whom
learning is the business of life, we are too generally ignorant
of the mighty mysteries which Nature has heaped around our
path ; ignorant, too, of many of the discoveries of science and
philosophy, in ancient as well as modern times. To meet the
exigencies of our day, a judgment in the selection and con-
densation of works designed for popular use is demanded — a fa-
cility like that of the alchymist, extracting from the crude ores
of antiquity the fine gold of true knowledge.

The plan of this work naturally divides itself into four de-
partments. The first division is devoted to the consideration of
Silk, its early history and cultivation in China and various
other parts of the world ; illustrated by copious citations from
ancient writers : From among whom to instance Homer, we
learn that embroidery and tapestry were prominent arts with
the Thebans, that poet deriving many of his pictures of domestic



PREFACE. IX

life from the paintings which have been found to ornament their
palaces. Thus it is evident that some of the proudest attain-
ments of art in our own day date their origin from a period co-
eval at least with the Iliad. Again we find that the use of the
distaff and spindle, referred to in the Sacred Scriptures, was al-
most as well understood in Egypt as it now is in India ; while
the factory system, so far from being a modern invention, was
in full operation, and conducted under patrician influence, some
three thousand years ago. The Arabians also, even so far back
as five centuries subsequent to the deluge, were, it is stated on
credible authority, skilled in fabricating silken textures ; while,
at a period scarcely less remote, we possess irrefragable testi-
mony in favor of their knowledge of paper made from cotton
rags. The inhabitants of Phoenicia and Tyre were, it appears,
the first^ acquainted with the process of dyeing: the Tyrian
purple, so often noticed by writers, being of so gorgeous a hue
as to baffle description. The Persians were also prodigal in
their indulgence in vestments of gold, embroidery and silk : the
memorable army of Darius affording an instance of sumptuous
magnificence in this respect. An example might also be given
of the extravagance of the Romans in the third century, in the
fact of a pound of silk being estimated literally by its weight
in gold. The nuptial robes of Maria, wife of Honorius, which
were discovered in her coffin at Rome in 1544, on being burnt,
yielded 36 pounds of pure gold ! In the work here presented,
much interesting as well as valuable information is given under
this section, respecting the cultivation and manufacture of Silk
m China, Greece and other countries.

The second division of the work, comprising the history of the
'Sheep, Goat, Camel, and Beaver, it is hoped will also be
found curious and valuable. The ancient history of the Cot-
ton manufacture follows — a topic that has enlisted the pens of
many writers, though their essays, with two or three exceptions,
merit little notice. The subsequent pages embody many new
and important facts, connected with its early history and prog-
ress, derived from sources inaccessible to the general reader.
The fourth and last division, embracing the history of the Linen
manufacture, includes notices of Hemp, Flax, Asbestos, &c.

B



X PREFACE.

This department again affords a fruitful theme for the curious,
and one that will be deemed, perhaps, not the least attractive
of the volume. Completing the design of the work, will be
found the Appendices, comprising rare and valuable extracts,
derived from unquestionable authorities.

Of the Ten Illustrations herewith presented, five are en-
tirely original. It is hoped that these, at least, will be deemed
worthy the attention of the scholar as well as of the general
reader, and that their value will not be limited by their utility
as elucidations of the text. Among these, especial notice is re-
quested to the engraving of the Chinese Loom, a reduced fac-
simile, copied by permission from a magnificent Chinese produc-
tion, recently obtained from the Celestial Empire, and now in
the possession of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions in
this city. Another, equally worthy of notice, represents an
Egyptian weaving factory, with the processes of Spinning and
Winding ; also a reduced fac-simile, copied from Champ olliorts
great work on Egypt. The Spider, magnified with his web,
and the Indian Loom, it is presumed, will not fail to attract at-
tention.

Throughout the entire work, the most diligent care has been
used in the collation of the numerous authorities cited, as well
as a rigid regard paid to their veracity. As a work so elaborate
in its character would necessarily have to depend, to a consider-
able extent, for its facts and illustrations, upon the labors of
previous writers, the author deems no apology necessary in thus
publicly and gratefully avowing his indebtedness to the several
authors cited in order at the foot of his pages ; but he would
especially mention the eminent name of Mr. Yates, to the fruits
of whose labors the present production owes much of its novel-
ty, attractiveness, and intrinsic value.

New York, Oct. 1st, 1845.



CONTENTS.



PART FIRST.

ANCIENT HISTORY OF SILK.



CHAPTER I.

SPINNING, DYEING, AND WEAVING.

Whether Silk is mentioned in the Old Testament — Earliest Clothing — Coats of
Skin, Tunic, Simla — Progress of Invention — Chinese chronology relative to the
Culture of Silk — Exaggerated statements— Opinions of Mailla, Le Sage, M.
Lavoisne, Rev. J. Robinson, Dr. A. Clarke, Rev. W. Hales, D.D., Mairan,
Bailly, Guignes, and Sir "William Jones— Noah supposed to be the first empe-
ror of China Extracts from Chinese publications — Silk Manufactures of the

Island of Cos— Described by Aristotle— Testimony of Varro— Spinning and
Weaving in Egypt — Great ingenuity of Bezaleel and Aholiab in the production
of Figured Textures for the Jewish Tabernacle — Skill of the Sidonian women
in the Manufacture of Ornamental Textures — Testimony of Homer — Great
antiquity of the Distaff and Spindle — The prophet Ezekiel's account of the
Broidered Stuffs, etc. of the Egyptians — Beautiful eulogy on an industrious
woman— Helen the Spartan, her superior skill in the art of Embroidery — Golden
Distaff presented her by the Egyptian queen Alcandra— Spinning a domestic
occupation in Miletus— Theocritus's complimentary verses to Theuginis on her
industry and virtue — Taste of the Roman and Grecian ladies in the decoration
of their Spinning Implements— Ovid's testimony to the skill of Arachne in
Spinning and Weaving— Method of Spinning with the Distaff— Described by
Homer and Catullus— Use of Silk in Arabia 500 years after the flood— For-
ster's testimony 1

CHAPTER II.

HISTORY OF THE SILK MANUFACTURE CONTINUED TO THE 4TH CENTURY.

SPINNING, DYEING, AND WEAVING. HIGH DEGREE OF EXCELLENCE ATTAINED

IN THESE ARTS.

Testimony of the Latin poets of the Augustan age— Tibullus— Propertius— Virgil
Horace Ovid— Dyonisius Perigetes — Strabo. Mention of silk by authors in



Xll CONTENTS.

the first century — Seneca the Philosopher — Seneca the Tragedian — Lucan —
Pliny — Josephus — Saint John — Silius Italicus — Statius — Plutarch — Juvenal —
Martial — Pausanias — Galen — Clemens Alexandrinus — Caution to Christian
converts against the use of silk in dress. Mention of silk by authors in the
second century — Tertullian — Apuleius — Ulpian — Julius Pollux — Justin. Men-
tion of silk by authors in the third century — JElius Lampidius — Vopiscus —
Trebellius Pollio — Cyprian — Solinus — Ammianus — Marcellinus — Use of silk by
the Roman emperors — Extraordinary beauty of the textures — Use of water to
detach silk from the trees — Invectives of these authors against extravagance in
dress — The Seres described as a happy people — Their mode of traffic, etc. —
(Macpherson's opinion of the Chinese.) — City of Dioscurias, its vast commerce
in former times. — (Colonel Syke's account of the Kolissura silk-worm — Dr.
Roxburgh's description of the Tusseh silk-worm.) .... 22

CHAPTER III.

HISTORY OF THE SILK MANUFACTURE FROM THE THIRD TO THE SIXTH

CENTURY.

SPINNING, DYEING, AND WEAVING. HIGH DEGREE OF EXCELLENCE ATTAINED

IN THESE ARTS.

Fourth Century — Curious account of silk found in the Edict of Diocletian — Ex-
travagance of the Consul Furius Placidus — Transparent silk shifts — Ausonius
describes silk as the produce of trees — Quintus Aur Symmachus, and Claudian's
testimony of silk and golden textures — Their extraordinary beauty — Pisander's
description — Periplus Maris Erythreei — Dido of Sidon. Mention of silk in the
laws of Manu — Rufus Festus Avinus — Silk shawls — Marciannus Capella — In-
scription by M. N. Proculus, silk manufacturer — Extraordinary spiders' webs —
Bombyces compared to spiders — Wild silk-worms of Tsouen — Kien and Tiao-
Kien — M. Bertin's account — Further remarks on wild silk-worms. Christian
authors of the fourth century — Arnobius — Gregorius Nazienzenus — Basil — Il-
lustration of the doctrine of the resurrection — Ambrose — Georgius Pisida —
Macarius — Jerome — Chrysostom — Heliodorus — Salmasius — Extraordinary
beauty of the silk and golden textures described by these authors — Their invec-
tives against Christians wearing silk. Mention of silk by Christian authors in
the fifth century — Pridentius — Palladius — Theodosian Code — Appolinaris Si-
donius — Alcimus Avitus. Sixth century — Boethius. (Manufactures of Tyre
and Sidon — Purple — Its great durability — Incredible value of purple stuffs
found in the treasury of the King of Persia) 41

CHAPTER IV.

HISTORY OF THE SILK MANUFACTURE CONTINUED FROM THE INTRO-
DUCTION OF SILK- WORMS INTO EUROPE, A.D. 530, TO THE FOURTEENTH
CENTURY.

A. D. 530. — Introduction of silk-worms into Europe — Mode by which it was
effected — The Serinda of Procopius the same with the modern Khotan — The



CONTENTS. Xlll

silk-worm never bred in Sir-hind — Silk shawls of Tyre and Berytus — Tyran-
nical conduct of Justinian — Ruin of the silk manufactures — Oppressive conduct
of Peter Barsames — Menander Protector — Surprise of Maniak the Sogdian am-
bassador — Conduct of Chosroes, king of Persia — Union of the Chinese and Per-
sians against the Turks — The Turks in self-defence seek an alliance with the
Romans — Mortification of the Turkish ambassador — Reception of the Byzan-
tine ambassador by Disabul, king of the Sogdiani — Display of silk textures —
Paul the Silentiary's account of silk — Isidorus Hispalensis. Mention of silk by
authors in the seventh century — Dorotheus, Archimandrite of Palestine — In-
troduction of silk-worms into Chubdan, or Khotan — Theophylactus Simocatta
— Silk manufactures of Turfan — Silk known in England in this century — ■
First worn by Ethelbert, king of Kent — Use of by the French kings — Aldhel-
mus's beautiful description of the silk -worm — Simile between weaving and vir-
tue. Silk in the eighth century — Bede. In the tenth century — Use of silk by
the English, Welsh, and Scotch kings. Twelfth century — Theodoras Prodro-
mus — Figured shawls of the Seres — Ingulphus describes vestments of silk in-
terwoven with eagles and flowers of gold — Great value of silk about this time —
Silk manufactures of Sicily — Its introduction into Spain. Fourteenth century
— Nicholas Tegrini — Extension of the Silk manufacture through Europe, illus-
trated by etymology — Extraordinary beauty of silk and golden textures used in
the decoration of churches in the middle ages — Silk rarely mentioned in the
ninth, eleventh, or thirteenth centuries 66

CHAPTER V.

SILK AND GOLDEN TEXTURES OF THE ANCIENTS.
HIGH DEGREE OF EXCELLENCE ATTAINED IN THIS MANUFACTURE.

Manufacture of golden textures in the time of Moses — Homer — Golden tunics of
the Lydians — Their use by the Indians and Arabians — Extraordinary display
of scarlet robes, purple, striped with silver, golden textures, &c, by Darius,
king of Persia — Purple and scarlet cloths interwoven with gold — Tunics and
shawls variegated with gold — Purple garments with borders of gold — Golden
chlamys — Attalus, king of Pergamus, not the inventor of gold thread — Bostick
— Golden robe worn by Agrippina — Caligula and Heliogabalus — Sheets inter-
woven with gold used at the obsequies of Nero — Babylonian shawls intermixed
with gold — Silk shawls interwoven with gold — Figured cloths of gold and Ty-

rean purple — Use of gold in the manufacture of shawls by the Greeks

4,000,000 sesterces (about $ 150,000) paid by the Emperor Nero for a Baby-
lonish coverlet — Portrait of Constantius II. — Magnificence of Babylonian car-
pets, mantles, &c. — Median sindones 84

CHAPTER VI.

SILVER TEXTURES, ETC., OF THE ANCIENTS.
EXTREME BEAUTY OF THESE MANUFACTURES.

Magnificent dress worn by Herod Agrippa, mentioned in Acts xii. 21 — Josephus's
account of this dress, and dreadful death of Herod — Discovery of ancient Piece-



XIV CONTENTS.

goods— Beautiful manuscript of Theodolphus, Bishop of Orleans, who lived in
the ninth century — Extraordinary beauty of Indian, Chinese, Egyptian, and
other manufactured goods preserved in this manuscript — Egyptian arts — Wise
regulations of the Egyptians in relation to the arts — Late discoveries in Egypt
by the Prussian hierologist, Dr. Lepsius — Cloth of glass ... 93

CHAPTER VII.

DESCRIPTION OF THE SILK-WORM, ETC.

Preliminary observations — The silk-worm — Various changes of the silk-worm
— Its superiority above other worms — Beautiful verses on the May-fly, illustra-
tive of the shortness of human life — Transformations of the silk-worm — Its
small desire of locomotion — First sickness of the worm — Manner of casting its
Exuviae — Sometimes cannot be fully accomplished — Consequent death of the
insect — Second, third, and fourth sickness of the worm — Its disgust for food —
Material of which silk is formed — Mode of its secretion — Manner of unwinding
the filaments — Floss-silk — Cocoon — Its imperviousness to moisture — Effect of
the filaments breaking during the formation of the cocoon — Mr. Robinet's curi-
ous calculation on the movements made by a silk-worm in the formation of a
cocoon — Cowper's beautiful lines on the silk-worm — Periods in which its vari-
ous progressions are effected in different climates — Effects of sudden transitions
from heat to cold — The worm's appetite sharpened by increased temperature —
Shortens its existence — Various experiments in artificial heating — Modes of ar-
tificial heating — Singular estimate of Count Dandolo — Astonishing increase of
the worm — Its brief existence in the moth state — Formation of silk — The silken
filament formed in the worm before its expulsion — Erroneous opinions enter-
tained by writers on this subject — The silk-worm's Will ... 98

CHAPTER VIII.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE CHINESE MODE OF REARING SILK-
WORMS, ETC.

Great antiquity of the silk-manufacture in China — Time and mode of pruning the
Mulberry-tree — Not allowed to exceed a certain height — Mode of planting —
Situation of rearing-rooms, and their construction — Effect of noise on the silk-



Online LibraryClinton G] [GilroyThe history of silk, cotton, linen, wool, and other fibrous substances; → online text (page 1 of 44)