Burlap Hessian

Hessian (/ˈhɛsiən/), burlap in America and Canada, or crocus in Jamaica, is a woven fabric usually made from skin of the jute plant or sisal fibres, which may be combined with other vegetable fibres to make rope, nets, and similar products. Gunny cloth is similar in texture and construction.

Hessian, a dense woven fabric, has historically been produced as a coarse fabric, but more recently it is being used in a refined state known simply as jute as an eco-friendly material for bags, rugs and other products.

The name "hessian" is attributed to the use of the fabric, initially, as part of the uniform of soldiers from the former Landgraviate of Hesse and its successors in interest (including the current German state of Hesse), whose people (and thus soldiers) were called "Hessians".

The origin of the word burlap is unknown, though its earliest known appearance is in the late 17th century, and its etymology is speculated to derive from the Middle English borel ("coarse cloth"), the Old French burel and/or the Dutch boeren ("coarse"), in the latter case perhaps interfused with boer ("peasant"). The second element is the English word lap, "piece of cloth".

 Hessian was first exported from India in the early 19th century. It was traditionally used as backing for linoleum, rugs and carpet.

In Jamaica and certain parts of the Caribbean (where it is only known as Crocus) many enslaved Africans who used to work on the plantations were not often given pleasant materials with which to make clothes. Some had access to cotton which was spun, woven, cut and sewn into serviceable clothing (often called homespun) whilst others had to make do with clothing fashioned from roughly hewn sacking. Enslaved Africans used their resourcefulness to recycle discarded sacking and fashion them into garments that although fairly uncomfortable by all accounts provided protection from the heat and dust. A traditional costume of Jamaican Maroons uses fabric very similar to this material as a way of drawing an affinity and pay homage to the resourcefulness and creativity of their enslaved ancestors who gained freedom. For the rest of the population, it is used to make bags for carrying loads of coffee and other items edible or not.