The Story of Nantong – Flourishing cotton and textile industries (Volume VII)

2023-01-29 10:23:52 | 来源

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During the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), agricultural production and the cottage industry in Nantong progressed significantly, with the former focusing on cotton cultivation and the latter spinning and weaving.


At this time, agricultural production in Nantong gradually took shape: The northern region focused on grain while the southern region on cotton. With a favorable climate and fertile soil, the riverside and coastal areas of the city were suitable for planting cotton. The cotton produced in these areas had long fiber and was white and elastic, making it perfect for spinning and weaving.

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Since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), cotton was widely grown in Tongzhou, Nantong. During the Wanli period (1573-1619), Tongzhou cotton sold well in Xuhuai and Shandong province.

In the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), in order to restore agriculture, rulers encouraged locals to reclaim land and plant cotton. As a result, cotton farmers in the Wu region, who were mainly migrants from Chongming, moved to Tonghai and became the first farmers there to plant cotton.

During the Qing Dynasty, the area for growing cotton in Tongzhou accounted for 80 percent of all farmland. Locally cultivated green-stem chicken-foot cotton (a name that originated from the cotton's shape) had a 10 percent higher yield than cotton grown south of the Yangtze River in Jiangnan.

During the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), handmade cotton techniques created by Huang Daopo quickly spread in the Jiangnan area.

In the early Qing Dynasty, migrants from Chongming and other areas of Jiangnan brought spinning and weaving techniques to Tonghai, which became the home of hand-woven cloth after Songjiang and Taicang.

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Local farmers wove their own cotton fabrics, and the number of varieties gradually increased.

Around the first year of Emperor Qianlong's reign (1736), Tongzhou was capable of producing hand-dyed hand-woven cloth.

Later, people there mastered the techniques of yarn-dyed fabrics to produce high-quality fabrics for clothes and bedding.

Gray cloth was mostly produced in Xingren, Xiting, and Guanyinshan. About 10,000 bolts (300,000 meters) of gray cloth went on the market per day and were exported to Southeast Asia and as far as Europe and America.

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Cotton, cotton yarn, and cotton cloth are closely linked, and thus a comprehensive industry comprising cotton growing, cotton processing, handmade textiles, and cotton, yarn, and cloth formed in Nantong. The industry has played an increasingly important role in the local economy.