This week let’s head to the Middle East and North Africa, which have been a major trading and production area of cloth for millennia.
There I would visit:
Gaza in Palestine, the fabric centre famous for gauze, which began to be imported into Europe in the 13th century.
Mosul in Iraq, may be the origin of the word muslin. Marco Polo describes the fabric being sold by salesmen known as musolini.
Damascus, in Syria, was among the first places to create damask in the early Middle Ages, and carried the name with the fabric up into Europe.
The El-Fustat district of Cairo, Egypt produced a strong fabric of linen and cotton which came to be known as fustian.
I could also tour the rest of Egypt to commemorate Egyptian cotton, which is not cotton that is grown in Egypt, but a particularly long-staple cotton, and (rather loosely) the fabric made from it.
After the Middle East, our tour will take us to India, which donated a plethora of names, all of which I will tell you about…next week.