‘Cotton’ is said to come from the Arabic word ‘kutun’ or ‘qutun,’ which refers to any fine fabric. This should not be a surprise since woven fabrics made from the fluffy fiber of the Cotton plant first became popular in the Islamic world. When Europeans adopted Cotton from the Middle East, they got access to a great alternative to linen fiber. Softer and easier to work with, many Europeans saw Cotton as a great substitute for linen and other fibers.
While wild Cotton has historically grown across a very wide geographic range-reaching even very remote island chains like Hawaii-Arab traders have had a long association with Cotton. We don’t exactly know the real age of Cotton. However, we know that humans have been using Cotton for over 7000 years. Cotton was used for making cloths in 3000 BC in the Indus Valley River Valley (Currently Pakistan).
Mostly at the same time, people in Egypt would also wear clothes made of Cotton. During 800 AD, Cotton came to Europe because of the Arab merchants. And, by 1500 AD, Cotton has been growing all over the world. Many civilizations would also use Cotton as their armors in wars.
Cotton cloth is widely thought to have originally come from the area of modern-day Pakistan and India. From here, Arab traders bought and sold bolts of Cotton cloth along with spices for distribution in the Middle East and, eventually, Europe. Given the fact that Cotton passed through Arab trading routes before being bought in Europe, the English word for this fiber derives from its Arabic counterpart instead of the Indian term for it-’kapaas.’
The largest producer of Cotton in the world is India followed by the U.S then China. China is the largest consumer of Cotton followed by India then Pakistan. A 227kg Cotton bale can be made into 215 pairs of jeans, 1,200 t-shirts, 2,100 pairs of boxer shorts, 4,300 pairs of socks or 680,000 Cotton balls. The American Paper currency is a blend of 75% Cotton and 25% linen giving the currency a distinct look and feel.
“Cottoned on” is a term for the ability to understand easily. “Cottoned to” refers to a person’s ability to get along. Both these phrases may trace back to the fact that Cotton is one plant fiber that is very easy to dilute. Cotton can easily be mixed with a wide range of both natural and synthetic fibers.