chapter  4
41 Pages

Handicraft and Manufactured Cotton Textiles in China, 1871–1910

ByAlbert Feuerwerker

The most important household handicraft in rural China was, however, the spinning and weaving of cotton. An examination of its fate, while it will not dispose entirely of the larger problem, is a critical step toward that end. The income from textile handicrafts formed a larger part of the total income of poorer farmers with the smallest farms than it did of the more affluent. The adoption of machine-made yarn, moreover, strengthened the handicraft weaving industry as a whole. The consumption of domestic and imported cotton yarn by machine looms in Chinese mills depends on the number of looms in operation, the type of cloth woven, and the production per loom. Handspun yam was partially replaced by domestic and imported machine-spun which was both cheaper and a good substitute for the handicraft product. The possible indirect effects of foreign yarn imports on agriculture and the peasant handicraftsman should also be considered.