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Handicraft And Manufactured Cotton Textiles In China, 1871–1910

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Chapter Summary

The most important household handicraft in rural China was, however, the spinning and weaving of cotton. From the yuan dynasty onward, cotton culture and manufacture had spread rapidly in china, cotton cloth becoming the principal daily article of clothing for all except the very wealthy. While imported machine-spun yarn was becoming cheaper, the price of Chinese raw cotton was rising. The most obvious consequence of the increasing inflow of foreign yarn was thus a geographical dispersion of the handicraft weaving industry. For many peasant households in those areas where cotton spinning had been important, who were unable either to find urban employment for some of their family members or to increase their production and marketing of cash crops, an always precarious equilibrium between income and expenditure was profoundly shaken by the decline in handicraft spinning which the author described and attempted to measure.

Keywords: cash crops; foreign yarn; household handicraft; peasant households; precarious equilibrium; raw cotton; rural China



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