Muslin (/ˈmʌzlɪn/ or /ˈmjuːslɪn/), also
mousseline, is a cotton fabric of plain weave. It is made in a
wide range of weights from delicate sheers to coarse sheeting.
They were imported into Europe from India in the 17th century and were
later manufactured in Scotland and England. It gets its name from the
city of Mosul, Iraq, where it may have been first
manufactured. Early muslin was handwoven of uncommonly
delicate handspun yarn, especially in the region around Dhaka, Bengal
(now Bangladesh), where it may have originated. It was imported
into Europe for much of the 17th and early 18th centuries.
Fine linen muslin was formerly known as sindon.
In 2013, the traditional art of weaving
Jamdani muslin in Bangladesh
was included in the list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible
Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
1 Etymology and history
2.1 Dress-making and sewing
2.2 Shellac polishing
2.4 Theater and photography
2.6 Early aviation
3 See also
Etymology and history
Muslin gauze) from French mousseline, from Italian
mussolina, from Mussolo ‘Mosul’ (Mosul, Iraq, where European
traders are said to have first encountered the cloth). Although this
view has the fabric named after the city where Europeans first
encountered it (Mosul), the fabric is believed to have originated in
Dhaka the capital of Bangladesh. In the 9th
century, an Arab merchant named Sulaiman made note of the material's
origin in Bengal (known as Ruhmi in Arabic). Bengali muslin was traded
Muslim world, from the Middle East to Southeast Asia.
In many Islamic regions, such as in Central Asia, the cloth was named
Daka, after the city of Dhaka.
Some believe Crusaders of the First Crusade found the cloth in the
Middle East and brought it back to Europe.[verification needed]
Subsequently, the word
Muslin found its place in various European
languages as French mousseline, Italian mussolina etc.,
Marco Polo described the cloth in his book The Travels. He
said it was made in Mosul, Iraq. During the 17th and 18th
centuries, Mughal Bengal emerged as the foremost muslin exporter in
the world, with Mughal
Dhaka as capital of the worldwide muslin
trade. During the Roman period Khadi muslin was introduced in
Europe and a vast amounts of fabrics were traded to Europe for many
centuries. It became highly popular in 18th-century
eventually spread across much of the Western world. During British
colonial rule in the eighteenth century, the Bengali muslin industry
was ruthlessly suppressed by various colonial policies, which
favored imports of industrially manufactured textiles from Britain.
Brutality to muslin weavers was intense,
William Bolts noting in 1772
that "instances have been known of their cutting off their thumbs to
prevent their being forced to wind silk.":194 As a result, the
quality of muslin suffered greatly and its finesse was nearly lost for
two centuries. There have been various attempts at reviving the muslin
industry in modern Bangladesh.
At the end of the 16th century the English traveler Ralph Fitch
greatly admired the muslin of Sonargaon. The Portuguese traveler
Duarte Barbosa described the muslin of Bengal in the early 16th
century. He mentioned a few types of fabrics, such as estrabante
(sarband), mamona, fugoza, choutara, and sinabaka. In present day,
many different types of muslins are produced in many different places,
The word muslin is also used colloquially. In the United Kingdom, many
sheer cotton fabrics are called muslin, while in the United States,
muslin sometimes refers to a firm cloth for everyday use, which in the
UK and Australia is known as calico.
Under British rule, the British East India company could not compete
with the local
Muslin with their own export of cloth to India. Muslin
production was repressed and the knowledge eradicated. Local weavers
were systematically rounded up and their hands mutilated with removal
of their thumbs.
Dress-making and sewing
In Advantages of wearing
Muslin Dresses! (1802), James Gillray
caricatured a hazard of untreated muslin: its flammability.
When sewing clothing, a dressmaker may test the fit of a garment,
using an inexpensive muslin fabric before cutting pieces from
expensive fabric, thereby avoiding potential costly mistakes. This
garment is often called a "muslin," and the process is called "making
a muslin." In this context, "muslin" has become the generic term for a
test or fitting garment, regardless of what it is made from.
Muslin is also often used as a backing or lining for quilts, and thus
can often be found in wide widths in the quilting sections of fabric
Muslin is used as a French polishing pad.
Main article: Cheesecloth
Muslin can be used as a filter:
In a funnel when decanting fine wine or port to prevent sediment from
entering the decanter
To separate liquid from mush (for example, to make apple juice: wash,
chop, boil, mash, then filter by pouring the mush into a muslin bag
suspended over a jug)
To retain a liquidy solid (for example, in home cheese-making, when
the milk has curdled to a gel, pour into a muslin bag and squash
between two saucers (upside down under a brick) to squeeze out the
liquid whey from the cheese curd)
Muslin is the material for the traditional cloth wrapped around a
Muslin is the fabric wrapped around the items in barmbrack, a
fruitcake traditionally eaten at Halloween in Ireland.
Muslin is used when making traditional Fijian Kava as a filter.
Beekeepers use muslin to filter melted beeswax to clean it of
particles and debris.
Theater and photography
Muslin is often the cloth of choice for theater sets. It is used to
mask the background of sets and to establish the mood or feel of
different scenes. It receives paint well and, if treated properly, can
be made translucent.
It also holds dyes well. It is often used to create nighttime scenes
because when dyed, it often gets a wavy look with the color varying
slightly, such that it resembles a night sky.
Muslin shrinks after it
is painted or sprayed with water, which is desirable in some common
techniques such as soft-covered flats.
In video production as well, muslin is used as a cheap greenscreen or
bluescreen, either pre-colored or painted with latex paint (diluted
with water). It is commonly used as a background for the chroma key
Muslin is the most common backdrop material used by photographers for
formal portrait backgrounds. These backdrops are usually painted, most
often with an abstract mottled pattern.
In the early days of silent film-making, and up until the late 1910s,
movie studios did not have the elaborate lights needed to illuminate
indoor sets, so most interior scenes were sets built outdoors with
large pieces of muslin hanging overhead to diffuse sunlight.
A first-aid packet of 5m of "hydrophilic muslin", given to Italian
soldiers in World War I
Surgeons use muslin gauze in cerebrovascular neurosurgery to wrap
around aneurysms or intracranial vessels at risk for bleeding. The
thought is that the gauze reinforces the artery and helps prevent
rupture. It is often used for aneurysms that, due to their size or
shape, cannot be microsurgically clipped or coiled.
The Wright Brothers, in search of a light and strong covering for
their gliders and the 1903 Wright Flyer (the first heavier-than-air
powered aircraft), selected Pride of the West muslin as a covering for
wings and control surfaces. A large piece of the fabric used on the
original Wright Flyer (1903) was passed down to Wright descendants.
The fabric was made available to The Wright
Experience(reproduction of the Wright gliders and Flyer and
reenactment of the first flight on its 100th anniversary) for
examination as it was no longer commercially available a century after
its use by the Wrights. To create an authentic modern reproduction of
the original fabric, three different companies were needed which
produced the thread, the weaving, and the finishing).
Muslin trade in Bengal
^ muslin (noun), Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, March
^ a b c muslin (noun), Webster's Unabridged Dictionary
^ a b c d muslin, Encyclopædia Britannica
^ The Fairchild Books Dictionary of Textiles, A&C Black, 2013,
pp. 404–, ISBN 978-1-60901-535-0
^ muslin (noun), etymology, Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition,
^ a b Ghosh, G. K.; Ghosh, Shukla (1995), Indian Textiles: Past and
Present, APH Publishing, pp. 35–,
^ Oxford English Dictionary, 1st ed. "sindon, n." Oxford
University Press (Oxford), 1911.
Jamdani recognised as intangible cultural heritage by Unesco", The
Daily Star, 5 December 2013, retrieved 2013-12-04
^ a b Eaton, Richard Maxwell (1996), The Rise of Islam and the Bengal
Frontier, 1204-1760, University of California Press, p. 202,
^ Dutt, Sukumar (1988), Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India: Their
History and Their Contribution to Indian Culture, Motilal Banarsidas
Publishers, p. 132, OCLC 860235537
^ Polo, Marco. The most noble and famous travels of Marco Polo,
together with the travels of Nicoláo de' Conti. Translated by John
Frampton, London, A. and C. Black, 1937, p.28.
^ Karim, Abdul (2012), "Muslin", in Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A.,
Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of
Bangladesh (Second ed.), Asiatic
Society of Bangladesh
^ "The story of KHADI", The Daily Star (Bangladesh), 13 December 2011,
^ a b Bolts, William (1772), Considerations on India affairs:
particularly respecting the present state of Bengal and its
dependencies, Printed for J. Almon, pp. 194–195
^ Selim, Lala Rukh (2007), Art and Crafts, Asiatic Society of
Bangladesh, p. 552, OCLC 299379796
^ Edwards, Michael (June 1976), Growth of the British
1780-1815, Augustus M Kelley Pubs, p. 37,
^ Marshall, P. J. (1988), India and Indonesia during the Ancien
Regime, E.J. Brill, p. 90, ISBN 978-90-04-08365-3
^ Samuel, T. John (2013), Many avatars : challenges, achievements
and the future, [S.l.]: Friesenpress, ISBN 1-4602-2893-6
^ Pool, J. (1976), "
Muslin gauze in intracranial vascular surgery.
Technical note.", Journal of Neurosurgery, 44 (1): 127–128,
^ Berger, C.; Hartmann, M.; Wildemann, B. (March 2003), "Progressive
visual loss due to a muslinoma – report of a case and review of the
literature", European Journal of Neurology, 10 (2): 153–158,
^ The Wright Experience
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Asher, Catherine B.; Talbot, Cynthia (2006), India Before Europe,
Cambridge University Press, pp. 281–,
Eaton, Richard M. (1996), The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier,
1204-1760, University of California Press, pp. 202–,
Islam, Khademul. 2016. Our Story of
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India, Cambridge University Press, pp. 202–,
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Look up muslin in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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