Posted on February 13 2015
Whatever the case, cotton has become an integral part of our daily lives, which begs the question, “Why?” What is it about this specific substance that makes it capable of withstanding the test of time? And why do so many people, each and every day, drape themselves with it? To answer those questions, we have to start from the beginning.
The Dawn of Cotton
Archaeological evidence shows that cotton use has been around since prehistoric times. Specifically, evidence comes from Mehrgarh, an archaeological dig site in Pakistan, which falls in the Neolithic era from 6500 BCE to 2500 BCE. From there, it spread during the Indus Valley Civilization, which covered most of Pakistan and northwestern India. Also during this time, the cotton industry became well developed, and such methods as cotton spinning became more prominent. This expansion of cotton led to its eventual spread from India to other parts of the Asia continent. However, during medieval Europe cotton remained an imported product, not a grown one. And even then, few Europeans knew what the plant looked like, often imagining it as a tree rather than a shrub. (The misconception comes from Herodotus writing in his Histories that trees in India produced wool.) As you can guess, cotton continued to become an everyday commodity, resulting in more information about the product reaching the mainstream mindset. Given enough time, it reached the current saturation that we see today.
But still, why? What about the substance made it so worthwhile to spread across the globe?
The Hard Facts of Cotton
The first major reason for cotton’s popularity lies within its cultivation process. Whereas wool requires a large herd of animals, cotton simply requires a field - one that isn’t even exceptionally healthy, either. Cotton is a resilient plant that takes root within seasonally dry tropics or subtropics, making it hardy and easily reproduced. Moreover, cotton is soft, fluffy, and enjoyable to the touch. Once spun into yarn or thread, the product can produce breathable textiles, ranging from clothes to curtains. But it’s not merely the tactile sensation that has resulted in a huge cotton explosion. The substance has proven itself extremely versatile, able to be blended with other textiles such as polyester. This provides manufacturers with an area of experimentation, through which they can create cotton blend products for numerous areas of life. For example, cotton has been used to create fishing nets, outdoor tents, explosives, and fire hoses - products that require more than a modicum of durability to perform their function. That durability translates to a long-lasting substance capable of fulfilling numerous roles. In short, cotton is a durable, versatile substance that also feels great to the touch. Really, what more could you want?
Next time you’re walking through your home, take a serious look around to see how many of your everyday products are made from cotton or a cotton blend. You may be surprised by the total number. From blankets to blue jeans, carpets to kitchen mitts, cotton has earned its place among our daily lives. By Brahms Mount