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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Mohair



ENCOURAGED by the demand for new forms of old fabrics, American makers of upholstery and hangings have evolved out of mohair a textile of great antiquity woven from the fleece of Angora goats-new textures, colors and patterns for the embellishment of the modern home. Traditionally a pile or velvet fabric, mohair may now be obtained also in smooth cloths for window and bed drapery, wall hangings and upholstery of furniture; even a net weave has been made for glass curtains for windows. In the older weaves the modern spirit of high color and daring designs has supplemented patterns whose originals once graced the drawing-room furniture in the days of William and Mary or of good Queen Anne.

Mohair meets well the present-day demand for fabrics that will stand hard and often careless usage. Gone are the days when the delicately covered chairs and sofas lasted long because the "best" room was used only for state occasions. Today every room in a home is an every-day room, and furniture instead of being venerated is being used.

This attitude toward craftsmanship and art has created a demand for household appointments that can take care of themselves.

Of tremendous durability for no other fabric of ifs quality will stand as much usage and still retain its original freshness mohair in its old and new patterns and weaves runs the gamut from heavy pile velvets to smooth printed fabrics that suggest wood block printed linens. The newer type of mohair used as hangings follows the style of the brilliant floral designs seen in the modern cretonnes and wood block linens. For example, on a cream ground traced in vivid blues, lavenders and bright greens, flowering branches twine in sinuous beauty, with exotically colored birds and brilliant flowers intermingled. These weaves of mohair are not, however, substitutes for cretonnes and wood block linens. They have an individuality of their own, possessing a certain richness of weave characteristic of the traditional mohairs.

Another of the interesting new designs shows stripes of varying widths in a variety of hues. In these patterns the modern knowledge of color harmony and color contrasts is shown. Upholstery of this type is discovered on the more ornamental types of furniture and in chairs and settees used in sunrooms. These lighter modern weaves are enlarging the field of usefulness of mohair.Bedspreads elaborately embroidered in color, slip covers, cushions, even lamp, shades, show mohair in the newer weaves and patterns.

The traditional employment of mohair as window drapery and for upholstery mohair in all the glory of its heavy velvet richness

is, of course, still the most important use of this interesting fabric. Because of its popularity in the great decorative periods of the past, mohair is obtainable in patterns that have come down to us from French, Italian and English sources of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Designs that recall the dull hued but leafy richness of ancient verdue tapestries, fabrics with the classic floriated motifs that were typical of the Italian Renaissance, or designs in velvet which, in their brilliant reds and yellows suggests the splendors of Granada and Castile, are obtainable today either in the antique effects of ancient fabrics mellowed with age or in fresh color.

The making of mohair is one of the oldest weaving industries. A fabric from the Near East, mohair from the long-fleeced goat of Angora was a choice textile woven only for the very wealthy and known as far back as ancient Egyptian days. Its name, in fact, is derived from the Arabian, and means choice or select. Some time in the latter part of the seventeenth century, mohair appeared in England, imported from the East. From that time on through the eighteenth century this fabric, later woven on hand looms in the Low Countries, played an important part in upholstery and wall decoration.

In this period, fabrics used for window draperies and coverings of the wall were given elaborate attention, and often more money was spent on them than on the chairs and tables in a room. As was the custom at that time, several sets of hangings were made for each room, and these were changed a number of times during the year.



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