History of Linen

Societies who have used linen throughout history:

CAVEMEN:  Braided flax fibers were found in a cave in Georgia dated to 30,000 BC.  Since clothing was not used in 30,000 BC, scientists say the fibers were used as tools to make nets for fishing and hunting, ropes for carrying extra things, and other uses that would benefit cavemen.

KING TUT: Linen was King Tut’s favorite fabric.

ALEXANDER THE GREAT: Alexander’s armor was made of linen glued in multiple layers with animal fat, called lino thorax.  This type of linen used for battle is recorded in Book 2 of Homer’s Iliad (2.529 and 2.830)

THE BIBLE:  Angels wore linen (They were dressed in clean, shining linen…Revelation 15)  The outer court of the tabernacle was made from linen drapes (…there shall be hangings for the court made of fine woven linen… Exodus 27:9)

ANCIENT EGYPT:  Linens role in Egypt was probably more important than in many other cultures, as Egyptians rarely used wool and cotton was still unknown during much of ancient Egypt. It was seen as a gift of the Nile.  They used it for everything from clothing, to currency, to wrapping mummies. Linen was chosen for mummies because Egyptians saw pure linen as a symbol of light and purity, and as a display of wealth.

PHOENICIA: Traded with ancient Egyptians to acquire linen.  They made clothes and sail cloths.

ROME: Worn by emperors, officers, and patricians.

GREECE: Worn by the higher classes.

SLAVS: Slavs have a long history of using linen. They used it as clothing, sail cloth, fishing nets, ropes, and linseed oil.

INDIAN DESERT: Linen was used for royal funerary shrouds in order to keep the ashes of corpses separate from those of the pyre.  ( A pyre is a pile of wood used to burn corpses in a funeral ceremony)

MESOPOTAMIA: Religious leaders such as priests were the only ones deemed worthy of wearing it.

Many years ago before the era of civilization, clothing was really not glamorous the way it is today. People would only throw on an animal skin and move on with their daily activities. What we call fabric today never existed, therefore, garments tended to be heavy and not very functional.  Fortunately, because of the ingenuity of our ancestors, fiber was discovered & we soon began using the flax plant to create linen.  The earliest linens were not used as clothes, but as tools.  Cavemen braided the linen and used it as netting for fishing, ropes for carrying more weight, etc… Up until a few years ago, most scientists thought the first fabric was made 25,000 years ago.  In 2009, scientists discovered flax fibers (linen) that was dated to 32,000 BC.  The fibers had been dyed with bright colors by our creative forefathers.

As soon as early civilization reached the point where they were able to cultivate land, it became the game changer for fabric and clothing.  People started growing flax and making linen from it. They usually weaved the fibers into fabric and the pelts were usually shed to favor the cleaner and more manageable raw material.
Linen has roots and history in so many ancient cultures because flax plant is native to many places around the Mediterranean ranging from India to North Africa to Europe.

Back in the ancient Egyptian era, linen was prized based on its rarity and other factors. Linen happens to be resistant to insects, lightweight and it wicks away moisture which makes it perfect for the hot Egyptian climate. Furthermore, hygiene was extremely important in ancient Egyptian culture, so linen was considered to be a pure material because of its anti-microbial properties and smooth texture. Additionally, they believed the whiter the  linen, the purer the garment became.  Little wonder the Egyptian priests were only allowed to wear linen. The bright white color and fabric was in high demand for use in many rituals. Phoenician traders bought linen to Europe around 900 BC and the Romans established a number of linen factories in Gaul and Britain so as to keep up with demand and supply of their colonial forces.

All types of clothes were made from linen cloth and flax cultivation was widespread by the 16th century. The fabric exploded into popularity instead of being reserved for selected few.  In our world today, linen keeps appearing in fashion more and more often for a number of reasons. We see celebrities, global leaders, and other high achievers wearing it.  In respect to sustainability, linen makes perfect sense because naturally fiber is better for the environment and it is a better alternative when compared to its cotton counterpart.  Linen has a luxurious feel due to its quality and performance, especially when it is being used for sheets.

How is Linen made?

Linen comes from flax plant. Flax and can be found growing wild all around the Mediterranean, especially in the rivers and deltas that flow into the Mediterranean. Flax is a reed-like plant that is tall and usually has long fibers, this makes it easy to be spun into thread. Flax is usually plucked and left to steam until the hard stem outside removes itself and only the long, soft fibers underneath are left behind. This process is called retting the flax.

Properly dying linen in color is not really an easy task, so historically people preferred to wear it undyed. The fiber is then taken and spun onto a spindle, then into linen thread. Linen can be spun into a thick and strong thread; this will depend on the skill of the spinner and the purpose of the linen. For instance, the ancient Phoenicians, an ancient sea faring society, made extremely thick linen sails that could withstand great abuse. At Linessence, we have spent thousands of hours to create a custom thickness that we feel is the absolute best in the world for linen sheets. When we check the linen quality & purity of our competition, we have found many competitors have stopped using their old thickness and have begun using the same thickness we created here at Linessence. We are setting the standard.