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Various textiles (from left to right: woven cotton , velvet , printed cotton, calico , felt , satin , silk , sackcloth , synthetic fiber )

The term textiles comprises textile raw materials ( natural fibers , man-made fibers ) and non-textile raw materials that are processed into linear, flat and spatial structures using various methods.

It is a matter of

If non-textile raw materials (e.g. leather , feathers , scales , metals ) are also used in the product, it is crucial that the overall textile character is retained, i.e. that the foreign materials only have an additional function, to be included in the textiles.

Textiles in various shapes are among the oldest artifacts that have been made since the early days of mankind. To this day, they are one of the few product groups that are used in all areas of human life. For these reasons, extensive areas that deal with textiles have developed over thousands of years. These include:

  • the textile art and their specific production methods , which range from the preparation of the fibers after their production in the agriculture and the production thereof in the synthetic fiber industry to production of textile semifinished and finished products to packaging of the finished textile products,
  • textile material and goods knowledge,
  • textile testing and standards,
  • the application techniques in the various areas of application as well
  • their artistic , handicraft , cultural , cultural-historical and ethnographic aspects.


Textile is derived from the Latin textilis (woven, woven, textilia (Pl.) Fabric, cloth, canvas), from Latin texere (to weave ). Although based on old Latin roots, the term textiles did not appear in German-language technical books and dictionaries until the end of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, the term textile fabrics is used, which is divided into fabrics made of fibers such as felt and wadding and of threads such as braids, woven fabrics, nets and knitted fabrics.

An exact point in time for the introduction of the term textiles into German usage is not known; However, based on literature research, it can be assumed that this happened in the first decades of the 20th century and that this collective term was established in specialist literature (e.g.) and in practice from the 1950s, which ultimately led to the introduction of the DIN 60 000: Textiles - Basic Terms.

The term fabric is also used synonymously for textiles for those textiles that are produced as flat textile structures (e.g. nonwovens, woven, knitted fabrics, braids or knitted fabrics) as webs and rolled up directly on the market or in the clothing industry for further processing Clothing, home and household textiles as well as technical textiles are supplied.

For hundreds of years, the term cloth has had an overarching meaning for fabrics mainly made from wool yarns, but also from linen and cotton yarns. Cloth is also used as a flat textile structure made of various types of fiber that covers or envelops something, such as a table, hand, bed, wipe or headscarf. The term stuff is also used as a collective term, especially in historical representations.

A technical definition describes "textiles as a morphologically determinable, designed structure made of spinnable, length-limited fibers and (or) drawn, endless fibers that have spinnability as a property", whereby the attribution of fibers to textiles and thus the designation textile fibers is rejected because the same fibers can also be used to make paper. However, this view has hardly caught on in practice.

Components of textile products

The main components of all textile products are textile fibers, i.e. fibers that can be processed in textile manufacturing processes, in particular that can be spun. They are linear structures, i. H. the length-to-diameter ratio is much greater than 1, with sufficient length and flexibility as a prerequisite for its processability. According to their shape, the fibers can be divided into staple fibers (fibers of limited length) and filaments (continuous fibers). The textile fibers also include flock fibers , although they cannot be spun, as well as rubber fibers, metal fibers or spinning paper if these can be processed into textiles. Textile fibers are:

Textile products can also contain non-textile raw materials (e.g. leather , feathers , scales ).

Other ingredients, which often only make up a small proportion of the total mass, but are of particular importance for the appearance and the properties of use, include the dyes and finishing agents, such as finishing agents and sizing agents for influencing the processability of fibers and yarns, anti-crease agents , Water repellants and water repellants, flame retardants, coating agents and binders. For textiles that consist of at least 80% textile fibers and are made available to the end consumer, the trade is obliged to adjust the fiber composition in accordance with Regulation No. 1007/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of September 27, 2011, which will be effective from May 8th 2012 replaced the Textile Labeling Act . Corresponding exceptions are also regulated there. The Oeko-Tex Standard 100, which evaluates textiles for their human-ecological harmlessness, their pollutant content and their fastness to use, is also important for the permissible components of textiles . A safety data sheet is often requested, which must identify the most important components, in order to assess the textiles with regard to health compatibility, but also the hazard potential in the event of fire or during waste disposal . Textile finished goods are also provided with a care label for many areas of application .

production method

In terms of manufacturing technology, the production of semi-finished and finished textile products is largely carried out by joining . This is still done through manual labor and craft techniques, but mainly through industrial manufacturing processes . Simple work items such as spinning wheels , knitting or crocheting needles and hand looms , but mostly textile machines (such as spinning, weaving and knitting machines ), but also extrusion and drying technology units are used.

  • During spinning , staple fibers are twisted together over several preparatory process steps to form a yarn with a desired yarn count , whereby the static friction of the fibers and their flexibility are used. When simple yarns made of staple fibers or fiber filaments are twisted together, this joining process is called twisting .
  • When weaving , the threads of two thread systems ( warp and weft ), which are exactly or approximately at right angles to one another, are crossed to form a fabric according to a certain order ( fabric weave). The threads are mainly connected by frictional engagement at the crossing points.
  • In joining methods such as the activity , the warp knitting , the knitting , needle bind and stitch bonding are mesh of interlocking hanging loops for. T. also include straight thread systems, joined together to form a flat structure. Knitted fabrics, warp-knitted fabrics, knitted fabrics and sewn-knitted fabrics are produced. In particular, knitted and crocheted fabrics are easy to stretch because of their more form-fitting connection.
  • Braiding , lace making , crocheting and knotting are other joining processes in which textile fabrics are created from threads.
  • When felts , the textile to one of the oldest process for producing sheet heard be walking the filzfähige fibers, the fibers of fabrics containing (in particular wool and hair), entangled with each other due to mechanical, thermal and chemical effects. Walk felts are created.
  • One of the most diverse manufacturing processes for textile fabrics is the joining of fibers and possibly reinforcing agents to form nonwovens . First, the fleece is laid from textile staple fibers or directly from extruded continuous textile fibers, e.g. Sometimes also with the addition of other fibrous components such as cellulose , the fibers being held together by their own adhesion, but also by a form fit. The fibers can be arranged in the fleece with a preferred orientation, but also in a random position. The fibers of the nonwovens are connected by needling with barb needles, knitting, swirling by means of water jets, the action of heat and / or pressure, ultrasound or by adhesive and cohesive bonding with the aid of binders to form the textile fabric.

Most of the raw textile products (semifinished products) created by the various joining processes are subjected to various finishing processes in order to obtain a special appearance (e.g. by dyeing and printing ) or special properties (e.g. stain protection, low crease, flame protection). The production of textile end products such as garments, home textiles or technical textiles from fabrics takes place for the most part by clothing techniques , although finished products can be produced completely in a single operation (z. B. tights). For finished products that are to be assembled from different parts, the parts are cut to the desired shape from the textile fabrics presented and then joined together by sewing , welding or gluing. For other finished goods there is only a cutting to a certain width and length, in order to then e.g. B. rolled up and delivered as roll goods such as filter rolls. Finished goods can also be produced from textile fabrics by punching or cutting techniques, e.g. B. tapes, felt parts, medical devices u. v. m.

Properties and test methods

Due to the manifold possible combinations of the chemically and physically different fibrous materials, the shape characteristics of the fibers and yarns made up of the fibrous materials and the arrangement of these structural elements and their connection in the structure of the textile products and the additional possibilities for variation through corresponding finishing processes, there is a difficult one to name, but certainly Hundreds of thousands of specific textile materials with very special properties. Due to the large number of possible combinations, a wide variety of property profiles can be achieved according to the requirements of the areas of application of textiles. For the nonwovens alone, a number of approx. 120,000 possible combinations and thus material variants were named. Mechanical properties, such as strength and elongation under static and dynamic stress, play a role in textiles, just like with other materials. In addition, there are also very textile-specific properties such as the tendency to crease or abrasion resistance . In particular, however, aesthetic and physiological properties are very specific to textile materials and finished textile products. A special feature of textile yarn and flat structures compared to structures made of compact materials such as metals and ceramics is their high porosity , which essentially determines many processing properties and usage properties. These very specific properties, which are used to characterize textiles, have mostly developed very specific test methods.

Areas of application

Textiles are used in many ways. By far the best-known area of ​​application is clothing . In addition, they are used in the household and in interior design in the form of carpets , covers for upholstered furniture, curtains, towels, bed linen , as tablecloths or as cleaning and cleaning cloths. In technology and industry, textile materials can be found, for example, in sailing and lifting technology (from carrying nets to lifting straps ), ropes and lashing straps via airbags , filters , nets and geotextiles : In addition, textile materials are increasingly being used in architecture and construction. Traditionally as elements of temporary architecture such as sun protection sails , windshields , canopies , tents, etc., but also in contemporary architecture, particularly in roof structures and cable network structures. One speaks of textile architecture . In the medical and hygiene sector, textiles are used in diapers, handkerchiefs, hospital and surgical textiles and bandages. More recently, textiles have been used in conjunction with resin as fiber-reinforced plastic in sailboats and airplanes.

If textiles are used for industrial purposes and because of properties other than their appearance, they are usually referred to as technical textiles .

Prehistoric textile evidence

Hunting cultures

The oldest textile fibers known to have been used by humans are around 30,000 years old and come on the one hand from the Dzudzuana Cave in the Caucasus (Georgia) and on the other hand from Dolní Věstonice and Pavlov in Moravia . The Dzudzuana cave is made of flax fibers (some of which have already been dyed), while the two gravettia discovery sites in Moravia are nettle fibers. In addition to the direct textile evidence , the so-called Venus figurines of Gravettian can give clues to clothing, as this is indicated on the surfaces of the figures. There are z. B. the skirt of the Venus of Lespugue , often also textile ornamented belts, as in the Venus figurines of Kostjonki (Russia).

The textile evidence from Ohalo II on the Sea of ​​Galilee is around 19,000 years old .

AMS dating of textile finds from the Guitarrero Cave in the Andean highlands of Peru in 2011 showed a surprisingly old age of around 11,000 BP .

Stone and Bronze Age textiles

The production of woven textiles from vegetable fibers was connected with the development of agriculture and the cultivation of flax or hemp during this period . An examination of the textiles from the Bronze Age Lusehøj , which is only 2,800 years old, calls this into question. The textile is made of fiber stones . This indicates that textile production was still based on the use of wild plants in the Bronze Age.

The Neolithic Age went hand in hand with the domestication of plants and animals and the utilization of their properties. Textile remnants from Central Europe are still only made of plant fibers ( flax or flax fibers , hemp , woody bast) until the late Neolithic period . The already in the 6th millennium BC In Southeast Europe ( Sesklo culture) and the Middle East occurring spindle whorls made of baked clay are evidence of the spinning . There are also some clay spindle whorls in Central European ribbon ceramics . However, it is unclear whether these were used exclusively for processing plant fibers or whether they were also used for spinning animal hair or wool .

The existence of weaving techniques can be indirectly proven as early as the 7th millennium BC, as weaving pattern-like geometric wall paintings in the Turkish Tell of Çatalhöyük are strongly reminiscent of woven kilims . From a burial in house VI 1 of Çatalhöyük there is a charred weaving residue that dates back to about 6000 BC. BC and is now kept in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara . Another early tissue find from this region is known from Cayönü . Impressions of tissues in pottery from the 7th millennium BC Are from Jarmo in northern Iraq. According to an unconfirmed report from the Çatalhöyük excavation director James Mellaart from 1966, the oldest remains of felt were found in layer VI of the Çatalhöyük tell . Also from about 6000 BC. Common ceramic painting, which spread from Anatolia via Southeastern Europe ( Sesklo , Karanowo culture , Vinča culture ) to Central Europe (ceramic tape), mostly shows geometric patterns, as are typical for weaving techniques. Since no clay loom weights were found in these cultures, the use of small, mobile looms is assumed. The oldest image of a horizontal weaving frame is preserved as a scratch drawing on the inside of a ceramic bowl from the Badari site ( Egypt ) and dates back to around 4400 BC. Dated. The loom shown there is a simple peg loom. The bowl (Badari, grave 3802) is exhibited together with flax remains of about the same age in London's Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archeology .

Only in the late Neolithic period can (from about 3500 BC..) - with clay Webgewichten archaeological evidence for Central Europe of - weight loom are rendered. However, it is still unclear whether wool has already been woven in addition to vegetable fibers. There are first indications of processing sheep wool in Central Europe in late or end Neolithic cultures (around 3000 BC), for example in the eastern Bavarian Cham culture . The changed demography of late Neolithic sheep herds, as there is an increase in the number of older sheep there, is proof of the targeted keeping of woolen sheep. The rare direct evidence includes wool hair in the French lakeside settlement Clairvaux-les-Lacs (early 3rd millennium BC) and wool remains on an end-Neolithic flint dagger from Wiepenkathen , a district of Stade .

Recent history

Evidence of textiles and the way they were worn increased suddenly in the Bronze and Iron Ages . Tree coffins from the Nordic Bronze Age , for example the girl from Egtved , offered good conditions for preserving textiles. Various Bronze Age woolen fabrics obtained from brown and white Soay sheep were analyzed from Denmark . In the prehistoric salt mine in Hallstatt , many textile remains have been preserved due to the salty air. The technique of tablet weaving has been known since the early Hallstatt period at the latest .

Excellent textile preservation is found in mummies from the western Chinese Tarim Basin , which were built between 1800 and 400 BC. Are to be dated. The "Cherchen Man", a Tarim mummy from the 12th century BC. BC, wore knee socks made of felt, which were striped red, yellow and blue.

New research methods allow the location of the wool sheep used and thus conclusions to be drawn about the place of manufacture of wool textiles and, if necessary, their trade. The origin of wool from Iron Age textile finds from Denmark could be determined by means of strontium isotope analysis .

There are also advantageous preservation conditions for prehistoric textile remains if they are charred or, for example, encrusted with copper-based minerals due to contact with copper artifacts. Since copper inhibits the growth of bacteria and thus the biological degradation, textile remnants of the Indian Hopewell culture could be examined through this fact .


Web links 

Commons : Textiles  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Textile  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

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