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Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective case, around the seeds of the cotton plants of the genus Gossypium in the mallow family Malvaceae. The fiber is almost pure cellulose, and can contain minor percentages of waxes, fats, pectins, and water. Under natural conditions, the cotton bolls will increase the dispersal of the seeds.
The plant is a shrub native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the Americas, Africa, Egypt and India. The greatest diversity of wild cotton species is found in Mexico, followed by Australia and Africa. Cotton was independently domesticated in the Old and New Worlds.
The fiber is most often spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable, and durable textile. The use of cotton for fabric is known to date to prehistoric times; fragments of cotton fabric dated to the fifth millennium BC have been found in the Indus Valley civilization, as well as fabric remnants dated back to 4200 BC in Peru.Although cultivated since antiquity, it was the invention of the cotton gin that lowered the cost of production that led to its widespread use, and it is the most widely used natural fiber cloth in clothing today.
Current estimates for world production are about 25 million tonnes or 110 million bales annually, accounting for 2.5% of the world's arable land. India is the world's largest producer of cotton. The United States has been the largest exporter for many years.
Hybrid varieties are also cultivated. The two New World cotton species account for the vast majority of modern cotton production, but the two Old World species were widely used before the 1900s. While cotton fibers occur naturally in colors of white, brown, pink and green, fears of contaminating the genetics of white cotton have led many cotton-growing locations to ban the growing of colored cotton varieties.
The word \"cotton\" has Arabic origins, derived from the Arabic word قطن (qutn or qutun). This was the usual word for cotton in medieval Arabic. Marco Polo in chapter 2 in his book, describes a province he calls Khotan in Turkestan, today's Xinjiang, where cotton was grown in abundance. The word entered the Romance languages in the mid-12th century, and English a century later. Cotton fabric was known to the ancient Romans as an import, but cotton was rare in the Romance-speaking lands until imports from the Arabic-speaking lands in the later medieval era at transformatively lowered prices.
The earliest evidence of the use of cotton in the Old World, dated to 5500 BC and preserved in copper beads, has been found at the Neolithic site of Mehrgarh, at the foot of the Bolan Pass in ancient India, today in Balochistan Pakistan. Fragments of cotton textiles have been found at Mohenjo-daro and other sites of the Bronze Age Indus Valley civilization, and cotton may have been an important export from it.
Cotton bolls discovered in a cave near Tehuacán, Mexico, have beendated to as early as 5500 BC, but this date has been challenged. More securely dated is the domestication of Gossypium hirsutum in Mexico between around 3400 and 2300 BC. During this time, people between the Río Santiago and the Río Balsas grew, spun, wove, dyed, and sewed cotton. What they didn't use themselves, they sent to their Aztec rulers as tribute, on the scale of 116 million pounds annually.
In Peru, cultivation of the indigenous cotton species Gossypium barbadense has been dated, from a find in Ancon, to c. 4200 BC, and was the backbone of the development of coastal cultures such as the Norte Chico, Moche, and Nazca. Cotton was grown upriver, made into nets, and traded with fishing villages along the coast for large supplies of fish. The Spanish who came to Mexico and Peru in the early 16th century found the people growing cotton and wearing clothing made of it.
The Greeks and the Arabs were not familiar with cotton until the Wars of Alexander the Great, as his contemporary Megasthenes told Seleucus I Nicator of \"there being trees on which wool grows\" in \"Indica.\" This may be a reference to \"tree cotton,\" Gossypium arboreum, which is native to the Indian subcontinent.
Cotton has been spun, woven, and dyed since prehistoric times. It clothed the people of ancient India, Egypt, and China. Hundreds of years before the Christian era, cotton textiles were woven in India with matchless skill, and their use spread to the Mediterranean countries.
In Iran (Persia), the history of cotton dates back to the Achaemenid era (5th century BC); however, there are few sources about the planting of cotton in pre-Islamic Iran. Cotton cultivation was common in Merv, Ray and Pars. In Persian poems, especially Ferdowsi's Shahname, there are references to cotton (\"panbe\" in Persian). Marco Polo (13th century) refers to the major products of Persia, including cotton. John Chardin, a French traveler of the 17th century who visited Safavid Persia, spoke approvingly of the vast cotton farms of Persia.
In the Meroitic Period (beginning 3rd century BCE), many cotton textiles have been recovered, preserved due to favorable arid conditions. Most of these fabric fragments come from Lower Nubia, and the cotton textiles account for 85% of the archaeological textiles from Classic/Late Meroitic sites. Due to these arid conditions, cotton, a plant that usually thrives moderate rainfall and richer soils, requires extra irrigation and labor in Sudanese climate conditions. Therefore, a great deal of resources would have been required, likely restricting its cultivation to the elite. In the first to third centuries CE, recovered cotton fragments all began to mirror the same style and production method, as seen from the direction of spun cotton and technique of weaving. Cotton textiles also appear in places of high regard, such as on funerary stelae and statues.
Handheld roller cotton gins had been used in India since the 6th century, and was then introduced to other countries from there. Between the 12th and 14th centuries, dual-roller gins appeared in India and China. The Indian version of the dual-roller gin was prevalent throughout the Mediterranean cotton trade by the 16th century. This mechanical device was, in some areas, driven by water power.
During the late medieval period, cotton became known as an imported fiber in northern Europe, without any knowledge of how it was derived, other than that it was a plant. Because Herodotus had written in his Histories, Book III, 106, that in India trees grew in the wild producing wool, it was assumed that the plant was a tree, rather than a shrub. This aspect is retained in the name for cotton in several Germanic languages, such as German Baumwolle, which translates as \"tree wool\" (Baum means \"tree\"; Wolle means \"wool\"). Noting its similarities to wool, people in the region could only imagine that cotton must be produced by plant-borne sheep. John Mandeville, writing in 1350, stated as fact that \"There grew there [India] a wonderful tree which bore tiny lambs on the endes of its branches. These branches were so pliable that they bent down to allow the lambs to feed when they are hungry.\" (See Vegetable Lamb of Tartary.)
Cotton manufacture was introduced to Europe during the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula and Sicily. The knowledge of cotton weaving was spread to northern Italy in the 12th century, when Sicily was conquered by the Normans, and consequently to the rest of Europe. The spinning wheel, introduced to Europe circa 1350, improved the speed of cotton spinning. By the 15th century, Venice, Antwerp, and Haarlem were important ports for cotton trade, and the sale and transportation of cotton fabrics had become very profitable.
Under the Mughal Empire, which ruled in the Indian subcontinent from the early 16th century to the early 18th century, Indian cotton production increased, in terms of both raw cotton and cotton textiles. The Mughals introduced agrarian reforms such as a new revenue system that was biased in favour of higher value cash crops such as cotton and indigo, providing state incentives to grow cash crops, in addition to rising market demand.
The largest manufacturing industry in the Mughal Empire was cotton textile manufacturing, which included the production of piece goods, calicos, and muslins, available unbleached and in a variety of colours. The cotton textile industry was responsible for a large part of the empire's international trade. India had a 25% share of the global textile trade in the early 18th century. Indian cotton textiles were the most important manufactured goods in world trade in the 18th century, consumed across the world from the Americas to Japan. The most important center of cotton production was the Bengal Subah province, particularly around its capital city of Dhaka.
It was reported that, with an Indian cotton gin, which is half machine and half tool, one man and one woman could clean 28 pounds of cotton per day. With a modified Forbes version, one man and a boy could produce 250 pounds per day. If oxen were used to power 16 of these machines, and a few people's labour was used to feed them, they could produce as much work as 750 people did formerly.
In the early 19th century, a Frenchman named M. Jumel proposed to the great ruler of Egypt, Mohamed Ali Pasha, that he could earn a substantial income by growing an extra-long staple Maho (Gossypium barbadense) cotton, in Lower Egypt, for the French market. Mohamed Ali Pasha accepted the proposition and granted himself the monopoly on the sale and export of cotton in Egypt; and later dictated cotton should be grown in preference to other crops.
Egypt under Muhammad Ali in the early 19th century had the fifth most productive cotton industry in the world, in terms of the number of spindles per capita. The industry was initially driven by machinery that relied on traditional energy sources, such as animal power, water wheels, and windmills, which were also the principal energy sources in Western Europe up until around 1870. It was under Muhammad Ali in the early 19th century that steam engines were introduced to the Egyptian cotton industry. 59ce067264