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International Year
of Natural Fibres
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IYNF Coordinating Unit
Trade and Markets Division
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00153 Rome, Italy
Fax: +39 06 57054495
E-mail: IYNF-2009@fao.org

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Natural fibres

Mohair

Thin surface scales make mohair smooth to touch, while light reflected from its surface gives it a characteristic lustre

The animal

Irene Hoffmann

"Mohair" is derived from Arabic (mukhayyar, a goat's hair cloth). The goat in question, the Angora (Capra hircus) is thought to have originated in Tibet. Turkey was the centre of mohair textile production before the goat was introduced, during the 19th century, to southern Africa and the USA. Angora goats are shorn twice a year and yield from 3 to 5 kg of mohair.

The fibre

Mohair's diameter ranges from 23 microns at first shearing to 38 microns in older animals. Light and insulating, its tensile strength is significantly higher than that of merino wool. Like wool, mohair has surface scales, but they are thinner, making it smooth to the touch. Light reflected from the surface gives mohair a characteristic lustre.

CNR-ISMAC, Biella, Italy

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Producers

Shuttleworth Weaving

Although angora goats are raised for mohair around the globe, the major producer is South Africa. Production is concentrated in the country's Eastern Cape region, where the angora goat population is estimated at 850 000. Another major producer is the US state of Texas, with a herd of 200 000 goats.

Production and trade

Current world output of mohair is estimated at around 5 000 tonnes a year, down from a high of 25 000 tonnes in the 1990s, when the fibre ranked second only to wool. South Africa accounts for 60% of total production. Almost all South African mohair is exported raw or semi-processed to textile makers in Europe, the UK and the Far East.

Uses of mohair

Organic Bouquet

Mohair dyes exceptionally well and is moisture-absorbing, resilient, and flame- and crease-resistant. It is used mainly in yarn for knitting and crocheting, and in fabric for stoles, scarves and durable upholstery.

NKW

Fine hair from younger animals is used in clothing, while thicker hair from older animals goes into rugs and carpets and heavy fabrics for jackets and coats.

Zara Home

Mohair is often blended with wool to make top quality blankets. Weavers in Italy and Japan use mohair in blends as low as 20% to add crease resistance and lustre to luxury garments.