Identification of selected vegetable textile fibres

User menu

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Carr, Debra; Cruthers, Natasha; Myers, Tom; Smith, Catherine;


Reviews in Conservation, Volume 9, p.75-87 (2008)


This article reviews the literature on the identification of vegetable textile fibres, more commonly known as plant or cellulose fibres. Identification of such fibres can have important implications (authentication, cultural information, development of treatment protocols) in numerous conservation specialisations, including ethnographic objects, textiles, paper and easel paintings. The fibres discussed in this article are those that The Textile Institute (Manchester, UK) defines as being vegetable fibres; cotton, kapok, coir, flax, hemp, jute, kenaf, ramie, abac√° (manilla), henequen, New Zealand flax and sisal. The methods described include those that require only simple equipment, as well as methods that are more sophisticated, needing complex scientific instruments and trained personnel. The advantages and disadvantages of the methods are discussed. General and specific diagnostic features for each of the fibres are provided.