Egypt has grown cotton for thousands of years, yet the practice of using Egyptian cotton for bed linen really only took hold in the 1800s. Before that, Egyptians had used flax to make bed sheets.
Egyptian cotton’s commercial dawn
It was a Frenchman by the name of Jumel who convinced the ruler of Egypt, Muhammed Ali Pasha, in the 1880s that cotton could revolutionise Egypt’s agricultural industry. Jumel had come to see Ali Pasha after he had visited the United States and learned about the usefulness of cotton.
Although Ali Pasha didn’t believe the new cotton product would be quite as successful as Jumel believed it would be, he allowed it to be planted anyway. After the Egyptians were able to send three bales of the textile to Europe, he began to accept the fact that Egyptian cotton was a good idea after all.
In 1822, American businessmen saw an opportunity to introduce the Egyptians to the latest technology in the cotton industry. The Whitney Saw-gin made it possible to remove seeds from the product. However, Ali Pasha rejected this machine in favour of Egypt’s meticulously handmade variety of cotton.
Bringing Egyptian cotton to the western world
Cotton was extremely valuable in the 19th century, which resulted from two important events. In 1730, the British invented equipment that would allow farmers to spin cotton. Then in 1793, American Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin that allowed farmers to process larger amounts of cotton than they could previously. American cotton production increased, and the industry grew at an exponential rate. This ended when the country became consumed with the Civil War, but it offered Egypt the opportunity to fill the void that the Americans left.
Cotton production filled Ali Pasha’s coffers because he was the sole owner of all of the cotton that the country produced. This caused the ruler to plant cotton over larger and larger portions of the Nile Delta, and the result was that Egypt began to have an economy that was focused on one crop. The country’s wealth caught the interest of the Europeans. Therefore, they began to try to colonise Egypt at this profitable time, but Ali Pasha remained in control of the money that cotton production generated.
After the Civil War ended, the Americans resumed cotton production, but many people all over the world prefer cotton from Egypt. Although Egyptian cotton is no longer handmade the way it was in the early days, it is still highly valued as it has long fibers, which cause Egyptian cotton to be softer than other forms. It is also stronger.
Bringing Egyptian cotton to Egyptians
Since cotton was largely reserved for the foreign market, the Egyptian people were unable to buy cotton goods. This changed when entrepreneurs began to build a growing number of factories that created several products made from cotton. This gave the local people the chance to purchase the products that they were responsible for growing and manufacturing.
Today, people make a special trip to Egypt to purchase towels, bed sheets, table cloths and bathrobes made from Egyptian cotton, but you don’t have to do this. You can purchase directly from www.cottonaffairs.com.au and have your selections delivered to your door.