Mohair usually refers to a silk-like fabric or yarn made from the hair of the Angora goat. The word "mohair" was adopted into English before 1570 from the Arabic mukhayyar, a type of haircloth, literally 'choice', from khayyara, 'he chose'. Mohair fiber is approximately 25-45 microns in diameter. It is one of the oldest textile fibers in use. It is both durable and resilient. It is notable for its high luster and sheen, and is often used in fiber blends to add these qualities to a textile. Mohair also takes dye exceptionally well. Mohair is also warm as it has great insulating properties. It is durable, and resistant to moisture-wicking, stretch, flame and creases. It is considered to be a luxury fiber, like cashmere angora and silk, and is usually more expensive than most wool that comes from sheep.
Mohair is composed mostly of keratin, a protein found in the hair, wool, horns and skin of all mammals. While it has scales like wool, the scales are not fully developed, merely indicated. Thus, mohair does not felt like wool does.
Mohair increases its diameter with the age of the goat, growing along with the animal. Fine hair from younger animals is used for finer applications such as clothing, and the thicker hair from older animals is more often used for carpets and heavy fabrics intended for outerwear.
The term mohair is sometimes used to describe a type of material used for the folding roof on convertible cars. In this instance, mohair refers to a form of denim-like canvas. Mohair should not be confused with the fur from the angora rabbit, which is called angora wool.
Mohair is shorn from the goat without harming the animal. Shearing is done twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. One goat will produce 11 to 17 pounds (5–8 kg) of mohair a year. Shearing is done on a clean swept floor with extra care taken to keep the hair clean and free of debris. The hair is then processed to remove natural grease, dirt and vegetable matter. Mohair grows in uniform locks. Angora is a single-coat breed, and unlike pygora or cashmere, there is no need to dehair a mohair fleece to separate the coarse hair from the down hair.
The angora goat is thought to originate from the mountains of Tibet making their way to Turkey in the 16th century. However, fabric made of mohair was known in England as early as the 8th century. In about 1820, raw mohair was first exported from Turkey to England, which then became the leading manufacturer of mohair products. The Yorkshire mills spun yarn that was exported to Russia, Germany, Austria, etc. as well as woven directly in Yorkshire.
Until 1849, the Turkish province of Ankara was the sole producer of Angora goats. Charles V is believed to be the first to bring Angora goats to Europe. Due to the great demand for mohair fiber, throughout the 1800s there was a great deal of crossbreeding between angora goats and common goats. The growing demand for mohair further resulted in attempts on a commercial scale to introduce the goat into South Africa (where it was crossed with the native goat) in 1838, the United States in 1849, Australia from 1856-1875, and later still New Zealand. In 1849 Angora goats made their way to America as a gift from Turkey.
Today, South Africa is the largest mohair producer in the world, with the majority of South African mohair being produced in the Eastern Cape. The United States is the second-largest producer, with the majority of American mohair being produced in Texas.
Mohair is used in scarves, winter hats, suits, sweaters, coats, socks and home furnishing. Mohair fiber is also found in carpets, wall fabrics, craft yarns, and many other fabrics, and may be used as a substitute for fur. Because its texture resembles fine human hair, mohair is often used in making high grade doll wigs or in rooting customized dolls.
Mohair is also used in 'climbing skins' for randonnee skiing. The mohair is used in a carpet allowing the skier an appropriate ascension method without sliding downhill.
During World War II, U.S. soldiers wore uniforms made of wool. Worried that domestic producers could not supply enough for future wars, Congress enacted loan and price support programs for wool and mohair in the National Wool Act of 1954 as part of the 1954 Farm Bill. Despite these subsidies, wool and mohair production declined. The strategic importance declined as well: the US Military adopted uniforms made of synthetic fibers such as dacron and officially removed wool from the list of strategic materials in 1960. Nevertheless, the U.S. government continued to provide subsidies to mohair producers until 1995 when the subsidies were "eliminated effective with the marketing year ending December 31, 1995." In The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad Fareed Zakaria points out that the subsidies were reinstated a few years later due in large part to the lobbying on behalf of the special interests of the subsidy recipients. By 2000, Congress had appropriated $20 million for goat and sheep herders. As of 2002, mohair producers were still able to receive special assistance loans from the U.S. Government after an amendment to eliminate the subsidy was defeated. This program is widely cited as "pork barrel" legislation.
MOHAIR, the hair of a variety of goat originally inhabiting the regions of Asiatic Turkey of which Angora is the centre, whence the animal is known as the Angora goat. The Arabic mujiayyar, from which the word came into English probably through the Ital. moccacaro or Fr. mocayart, meant literally, "choice" or "select," and was applied to cloth made of goats' hair. In the 17th century the word, which before appears in such forms as mocayare or mokaire, became corrupted by connexion with "hair," cf. "cray-fish" from ecrevisse. From the English "mohair" the French adapted moire, a watered silk fabric.
The typical mohair fibre is 7 to 8 in. long, very lustrous owing to its physical structure (which although akin to wool is different in that the wool scales are indicated only instead of being fully developed, while the fibre is always solid), 01 0 to s 00 of an inch in diameter, of a soft elastic handle, and usually of a clear white transparent colour. The staples of which the fleece is formed should be uniform in length and clearly defined, naturally lending themselves to a good "spin" - a difficult attainment in the case of mohair (see Woollen And Worsted Manufactures).
There are many varieties of mohair, from the first qualities as here defined to lower qualities of a kempy, unsatisfactory character. Thus in Constantinople, the chief centre of the Turkey mohair trade, a large variety of fleeces is recognized. For example, from the Lake Van district a distinctly inferior kind known as "Van" mohair is obtained, while other districts produce varieties ranging from Van up to the typical quality described above.
The animal from which mohair was originally obtained was a finely-bred Angora goat. Owing to the demand for raw material exceeding the supply, from 1820 onwards there has been a great deal of crossing of the well-bred Angora with the common kind of goat: in fact it has been said that by 1863 the original Angora had practically disappeared. The growing demand for mohair further resulted in attempts on a commercial scale to introduce the goat into South Africa - where it was crossed with the native goat - the United States, Australia, and later still New Zealand. Perhaps the introduction of the Angora into Australia and New Zealand may in part be due to its value as a scrub and blackberry browser; these growths being the "pests" of the two respective countries.
The manufacture of fabrics from mohair - as in the case of alpaca and cashmere - was in the first instance due to the genius of the rearers of the goat. It would, indeed, be interesting to know if the present day mohair goods - often styled "alpacas" really had their origin in the earlier products of Asia Minor. That fabrics of mohair were in use in England early in the 8th century is obvious from Pope's allusion: "And, when she sees her friend in deep despair, Observes how much a chintz exceeds mohair." Raw mohair was first exported from Turkey to England about 1820, and from that date onwards marked strides were made in its manufacture into useful yarns and fabrics. England has always had, and still maintains, supremacy in this manufacture. Practically the whole of both the Turkish and Cape clips is at least converted into yarn in Yorkshire mills. Quantities of these yarns are also woven into dress goods, dust cloakings, pile fabrics, imitation furs, &c., in Yorkshire, but even greater quantities of mohair yarn are exported to Russia, Germany, Austria, &c., to be converted into astrakans, ordinary braids, brush braids, &c. In the first decade of the 10th century the mohair braid trade received a blow from the introduction of artificial silk.
The history of the introduction of the Angora goat from Asia Minor into the other countries mentioned is as follows. In 1838 pure bred Angoras were introduced into Cape Colony - cashmeres having been previously tried and found unsatisfac tory. These pure-bred goats crossed with the common goat laid the basis of the Cape flocks. In1856-1857other importations of pure-bred goats were made. From 1868 to 1897 further importations were made, but these were not of the pure-bred goat and consequently were not so valuable. It should here be noted that the Cape flock-owner clips twice - the summer clip yielding a staple which should be of not less than 7 in., and the winter clip a staple which should be of not less than 3 in. to 4 in. Bradford from time to time has objected to the winter clip as being too short, but this clip seems to have established itself and at least once during recent years has been as saleable as i he summer clip. The introduction of Angoras into the United States took place in 1849. Other importations of goats from Asia Minor were made between 1857 and 1880, and interchanges of blood also took place between the United States and Cape Colony. Between 1856 and 1875 some three hundred goats were introduced into Australia. Other importations from Cape Colony and the United States have also been made from time to time, and it seems at least possible, if not probable, that Australia may yet find the Angora goat an important asset.
From the following statistics relating to mohair it will be realized that the mohair supply practically comes from two sources, viz. Turkey in Asia and South Africa: Country. No. of Goats. Yield of Hair. Asia Minor. 32 to 4 millions. II to 12,000,000 lb.
South Africa.. 4 millions. 12 to 14,000,000 ib.
United States.. 800,000 I,600,000 lb.
Australia. .. .. 30,000 The price per lb of mohair has varied from 4s. id. in 1870 to 13d. or 14d. in 1903, and it is interesting to note that the shipments from Turkey to England follow these price fluctuations in a most curious manner.
Of the consumers of English mohair yarns Russia takes from 15 to 25%, and the continent of Europe as a whole a very large percentage of the total mohair yarn production of Bradford.