Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Presented at Textile Society of America 11th Biennial Symposium: Textiles as Cultural Expressions, September 4-7, 2008, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Copyright © 2008 Charlotte Jirousek


When European commerce expanded during the era of the Crusades, one of the commodities that was avidly sought by merchants reaching the Levant was a textile they called camlet, then known in Turkish as sof.. Camlet in the 15th century was made entirely of mohair, although later forms of European camlet were adulterated with other fibers. The mohair goat was unique to the region once known as Asia Minor (now Turkey), and attempts to raise these goats outside of Turkey never succeeded until the 20th century. By the 16th century Western merchants mainly sought yarn and fiber to supply their own industries. However, their weavers were never able to successfully weave 100% mohair cloth because they did not know how to make the slippery fibers into a yarn strong enough for warp. .

Today there are very few regions where mohair goats can be found in Turkey. It had been assumed that the weaving of the traditional mohair cloth had ceased. However, recently weavers of this cloth have been identified in Sirnak, a province of Southeastern Turkey along the Iraqi border. Efforts are being made to preserve this historic production, with the support of development funds through the European Economic Union, and marketing support of the Turkish Ministry of Culture. This paper will document the weaving of this traditional mohair cloth, including the preparation of yarns and finishing of the cloth with its characteristic moiré finish, and a design project involving students in our apparel design program, who are working on prototype garments and other products.