Jute History: The Global Origins and Its Fascinating Journey Over the Years

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Jute History

Known as the “Golden fiber” of Bangladesh, jute has a long and rich jute history. A natural fiber with a smooth and golden sheen, jute is a popular choice. Jute’s history may teach us a great deal on ways to make smarter environmental decisions.

Properties of Jute

To know about jute history you have to first know what jute is, the uses of jute and the types of jute. This natural fiber has a golden and soft shine, hence called the “Golden Fiber.” It is the second biggest vegetable fiber after cotton in terms of use, worldwide consumption, processing, and utilization. It comes from the bast or body of the tree’s stem. They have good breathability because they have a strong tensile resilience, very little extensibility, and do not stretch out.

Biodegradable and reusable, jute fiber is good for the environment. As one of the most adaptable natural fibers, it has been utilized in raw resources for packaging, textiles and non-textiles as well as in the industrial and agricultural industries. Producing high-quality industrial yarns, fabrics, nets, and bags is made easier with its assistance.

Looking back at jute history in India, an ancient Indian industry relies on jute, the golden fiber. In Bengal, the oldest jute mill opened in 1856. Competition from other materials, worldwide recession, and lack of customer knowledge of jute fabric’s versatility and eco-friendliness have put the sector in jeopardy for more than 150 years. 250,000 mill employees and over 4 million farmers’ families still depend on this business for their survival. It has a special connection to the Earth since it is a totally biodegradable and environmentally friendly fiber. Once it has served its purpose, it will return to the soil where it came from.

Additionally, jute has low heat conductivity and minimal moisture re-absorption, making it an excellent insulator and antistatic material. Acoustic insulation qualities and a skin-friendly manufacturing process are included. Fibers such as synthetic and natural jute may be combined with each other as well as dyed using cellulose classes such as pigment and basic dyeing methods. Jute’s biodegradable quality makes it ideal for food preservation, when synthetic materials would be ineffective.

Jute is a natural fabric that is renowned for its tensile strength. The great tensile rigidity and low extensibility of the extended staple fiber make it an ideal material for high-strength applications. In terms of quality, the more it sparkles, the better it is. It’s also heat and fire resistant to a certain extent. Its biodegradability makes jute a good choice.

For example, it has poor heat conductivity and a relatively high moisture re-acquisition rate, making it an excellent insulator and anti-static material. In addition to its noise-isolating capabilities, it’s made without any chemicals that can irritate your skin. Jute accommodates cellulosic dye categories like natural, basic, vat, sulfur, reactive, and pigment dyes and may be combined with synthetic or natural fibers.

Wool and jute may also be combined. Jute’s crimp, smoothness, flexibility, and look are enhanced by tackling it with caustic soda, which makes it easier to spin with wool. In addition, liquid ammonia improves jute’s ability to withstand flames when handled with flame-proofing chemicals.

Introduction to Jute History

According to the jute history, the stem and leaves of the jute plant are used to make cordage and weaving fibers, as well as food, across Africa and Asia dating back thousands of years. Jute history texts (Ain-e-Akbari by Abul Fazal in 1590) during Akbar’s reign (1542–1605) mention that impoverished Indians used jute clothing. The weavers employed simple handlooms and hand-spinning wheels, which they also used to spin cotton yarns, for their work. White jute ropes and twines have also been utilized by Indians, particularly Bengalis, since the ancient period for a variety of home and other purposes.

Papermakers in China have been using many types of plants, including hemp, silk, jute, and cotton, for millennia. Qiu Shiyu, a specialist in Jin history and a researcher at the Harbin Academy of Sciences, believed that Jews were involved in the creation of “jiaozi,” which were constructed of coarse jute paper. Chinese characters have been discovered inscribed on a little piece of jute paper that was found in Dunhuang, Gansu Province in northwest China. The Western Han Dynasty is said to be the time of its creation (206 BC—220 AD).

Up until the mid-20th century, the British Empire’s delegated authority in India resided with the British East India Company. As the first merchant in jute, the firm was a pioneer. During the 19th century, the firm mostly dealt in raw jute. The firm began dealing raw jute with Dundee’s Jute Industry in the early twentieth century. During that period, this firm enjoyed a monopoly on this trade. In the 1800s, Margaret Donnelly I had a jute mill in Dundee. The original jute mills in India were established by her. The Jute Barons were a group of businessmen in Scotland’s Dundee jute industry known as such.

The first shipment in jute history was sent out by the East India Company in 1793. In addition to the first 100-ton cargo, further shipments were made on an irregular basis. The flax spinners in Dundee, Scotland, were eager to find out if jute could be treated mechanically, so a cargo ship ended up there.

In jute history, the Dundee spinners first learnt to spin jute yarn in the 1830s by adapting their flax apparatus with a power-driven spindle. Raw jute from India, the subcontinent’s only provider of this fundamental commodity, increased output and export in tandem with Dundee’s growing jute sector.

History of Jute in India

Kolkata (Calcutta) had the ingredients at hand since the jute-growing regions of Bengal were predominantly located in the city. Coal for electricity was plentiful, and the city’s location made it excellent for transportation to global markets. In 1855, Mr. George Acland introduced jute spinning gear from Dundee to Rishra, on the Hooghly River near Calcutta. The first energy driven weaving mill was established four years later.

In 1869, there were five mills producing 950 looms. Rapid expansion resulted in the export of more than a billion yards of fabric and more than 450 million bags by 38 enterprises employing 30,685 looms by 1910. Jute production was mostly restricted to the cities of Dundee and Calcutta until the mid-1880s, when it began to spread across India. France, America, and other countries in the second half of the 19th century began producing jute as a result of the Industrial Revolution.

The jute sector in India grew rapidly over the next three decades of the jute history, reaching a peak of dominance in 1939 with 68,377 looms located mostly along the Hooghly River near Calcutta. Only these mills can meet the world’s needs.

Coarse bagging materials were among the first products made in Dundee from jute weaving. Burlap, or hessian, as it is termed in India, became more refined throughout time as a result. Because of the high demand for this excellent cloth, the Indian Jute Mills started producing it. As a result of the inherent advantages these mills had, Calcutta quickly became the global leader in burlap and bagging materials, and the manufacturers in Dundee and other nations switched to specialities, a wide range of which were produced.

History of Jute Industry in Bangladesh

After India gained its independence, the Jute Barons began to leave the country, taking their jute mills with them. Most of them were taken by merchants from the Marwari community. East Pakistan had the best jute supply following the split in 1947. The jute industry in Pakistan was born out of the growing conflict between India and Pakistan. Since then, a number of Pakistani households have established jute mills in Narayanganj, bringing the total number of mills in the city to over 100. Bawanis, Adamjees, Ispahanis, and Dauds made up the bulk of the Pakistani population. 

In 1971, Bangladesh was freed from Pakistan, therefore the Bangladesh government took over most of the jute mills. The Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) was later established by the government to manage and administer the country’s jute mills.

Bengal’s economy benefited greatly from the jute industry. A single industry – jute – dominated Bengal’s economy in the early twentieth century. Half of Bengal’s industrial workers worked in just one single plant. For Bengali exports in 1900-1, jute manufactured products contributed a significant portion to the entire export of Bengal. 

Bengal became a significant supplier of sacking bags when jute mills were established in the state. As a result of its lower cost of making jute products, Calcutta seemed to be a formidable rival to Dundee, and it was able to gain a foothold in many regions of the globe, including the United States.

The world’s consumption for raw jute fell after the conclusion of World War I in 1918. This had a negative impact on the jute-growing region. Throughout the Great Depression of 1929-33, the situation for jute agriculture deteriorated. Jute farming was unprofitable when the price of jute fell so low. It was for this reason that farmers drastically decreased the amount of land they used for jute farming. By the end of 1939, the economy had begun to revive. The outbreak of World War II increased demand for jute, and as a result, small landowners expanded their jute-growing fields between 1939 and 1945.

After Bangladesh gained independence in 1971, the public sector jute industry in East Pakistan was transferred to Bangladesh. This was the major turn in jute history of Bangladesh. About 68% of Pakistan’s loom owners fled the country, resulting in an industry in chaos. The jute mills that had been deserted were targeted by looters. To restore the economy, Bangladesh’s new government took over the duty.

Jute Diversification

Natural fibers are becoming superior substitutes in a variety of industries, which is why jute has made inroads. In addition to paper, celluloid goods (films), non-woven fabrics, composite materials (pseudo-wood), and geotextiles are also included in this list of sectors. Moreover, jute goods with a wide range of uses are becoming increasingly valued to consumers. Espadrilles, floor coverings, household textiles, high-performance technological fabrics, geotextiles, composite materials, and more are all included in this category.

In agriculture, geotextiles are more widely used. Soil erosion management, seed safety, weed management, and many other farming and gardening purposes may be achieved via the usage of this natural fiber fabric. It is possible to utilize the geotextiles for more than one year, and the biodegradable jute geotextile allowed to decompose helps maintain the soil cool and productive.

It is possible to utilize the geotextiles for more than one year, and the biodegradable jute geotextile allowed to decompose helps maintain the soil cool and productive.

Carpets made of jute are woven, tufted, and stacked. For example, jute non-wovens and mixtures may be utilized as substrate, linoleum foundation, and more. When used in place of cotton or in combination with it, jute has several benefits as a household textile. Strong, long-lasting, colorfast, and lightfast all describe this fiber. Its UV resistance, sound and heat absorption, low heat conduction, and anti-static qualities make it an excellent option for home décor. Jute textiles are also carbon-neutral and biodegradable because of their natural decomposition. Skincare, pharmaceuticals, paint, and other items may all be made from jute’s byproducts.

In the process of retting, the skin of the plants having loose strands is degraded to separate the fiber from the non-fiberous woody stems.

To produce galacturonic acid and sugar, fermentative bacteria eat the cementing elements such as pectins, hemicelluloses, and proteins.

Eh decreases to an extremely negative value when the pH of the retting water lowers. Retting is a purely anaerobic process that results in environmental contamination, as shown by these data. Ribbon retting, on the other hand, avoids many of the drawbacks of jute retting. Compared to traditional retting methods like whole plants, ribbon retting uses half the water, takes half the time, and pollutes half the environment. It also ensures higher-quality jute fiber in terms of strength, fineness, color, lustre, and overall bark free jute fiber production than traditional retting methods.

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