From the most rudely hand woven to the most elaborately complex of weaves, from the most sturdy and workaday to the most fragile and precious, textiles are a part of nearly every thing we do, even minute of the day, no matter who we are, or what our lives are like. As such they are one of the most pervasive inventions of the human mind, and are one of the most singular, and vital developments ever to come into being.
Since those early times fabric became one of the most important parts of our disparate economies. It was and is essential to trade internationally. For hundreds of years gifts of fine wovens were presented to kings and potentates. We made making cloth into an art form through the invention of tapestry. It developed into a method of relating important myths and stories from history that still inform and affect our lives. In fact, since we first thought it up the applications that textiles are put to has only ever expanded. Even now we continue to find new ways to employ this most essential of notions.
And so far, I've barely mentioned their use to cover and decorate our bodies. Yes, the development of the notion of weaving, and it's subsequent transition into the making of cloth is one of the most important things we ever thought up, and continues to affect every corner of our varied societies.
There are now many tens of thousands of fabrics that are used in garment production, and many more that have significant industrial applications. There are so many textiles now that, like words in languages, some have fallen out of use, and out of production. Some we only know from historical accounts. Others we know of from extant clothing that uses them. And while fabrics are falling to the wayside, others are being developed constantly out of both naturally occurring fibers, and out of chemical research.