curtain shawls for canopy bed

Love for Linen in Ancient Egypt

People's love for flax goes back many millennia. It is probably hard to even imagine that the Ancient Egyptians started using linen cloth as early as 5000 BC, in Neolithic times. It was found the latest in the First Dynasty Egyptian tomb at Tarkhan. Linen was used everywhere - household, fishing, farming, fashion, and funerary necessities. Thus, it was a fabric that accompanied the Egyptians not only in life but also after death.

Linen is an attribute of life

Even many millennia ago, linen was valued as a durable material for domestic use. For example, linen cord was knotted into nets that carried ceramic jars or caught fish or birds. It was helpful for fishing or even knitting ropes. The ancient Egyptians thus integrated linen into their daily routine and relied on it as a highly durable fabric.

An indispensable cloth for mummification

The quality of the afterlife is as vital as the Egyptians' existence on Earth. Linen was used for the sacred process of mummifying Egyptian bodies. Linen covered not only simple citizens but the Pharaohs as well. That gives the fibre great importance because it accompanied people to the afterlife, a significant part of Egyptian religion. 

Flax in everyday life

Love for Linen in Ancient Egypt

The Egyptians loved linen for its natural properties and used it even for everyday clothing. Everyone from the simple people to the pharaohs wore linen-fibre clothing. Although different colours of linen were found during archaeological research. The Egyptians knew how to dye it, a few colours had distinctive meanings. For example, white linen was not only less scorching from sunlight, but white was also a symbol of happiness. As the dyeing process with natural dyes was complicated, the common people usually wore bleached linen garments. Most often this fabric was dyed using minerals and flowers (especially ochre and safflower flower). For example, blue-coloured clothes were distinctive. Most blue textiles found in Pharaonic Egypt are produced from vat dyes.

Interestingly, the clothes worn changed little over the millennia. In stark contrast to the elaborate Egyptian costumes worn by Elizabeth Taylor in the movie Cleopatra, Egyptian fashion was amazingly simple. It changed very little through 3,000 years of rule.

One of the most appreciated properties of linen is its breathability. Because of the extreme heat that exhausted not only the nobles but also the people working in the fields, linen was the best way to regulate body temperature.

 

Thus, the history of linen fabrics and uses goes back thousands of years. Its robust characteristics allowed the Egyptians to use it not only in clothing but also in responsible household work. The relevance of linen fabrics has survived to the present day, and we have adapted its use to an even wider range of domestic applications.
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