HESSIAN, the name of a jute fabric made as a plain cloth, in various degrees of fineness, width and quality. The common, or standard, hessian is 40 in. wide, weighs io| oz. per yd., and in the finished state contains about 12 threads and 12^ picks per in. The name is probably of German origin, and the fabric was originally made from flax and tow. Small quantities of cloth are still made from yarns of these fibres, but the jute fibre, owing to its comparative cheapness, has now almost supplanted all others.
This useful cloth is employed in countless ways, especially for packing all kinds of dry goods, while large quantities, of different qualities, are made up into bags for sugar, flour, coffee, grain, ore, manure, sand, potatoes, onions, etc. Indeed, bags made from one or other quality of this cloth, or from sacking, bagging or tarpaulin, form the most convenient, and at the same time the cheapest covering for any kind of goods which are not damaged by being crushed.
Certain types are specially treated, dyed black, tan or other colour, or left in their natural colour, stiffened and used for paddings and linings for cheap clothing, boots, shoes, bags and other articles. When dyed in art shades the cloth forms an attractive decoration for stages and platforms, and generally for any temporary erection, and in many cases it is stencilled and then used for wall decoration.
The great linoleum industry depends upon certain types of this fabric for the foundation of its products, while large quantities are used for the backs of fringe rugs, spring mattresses and the upholstery of furniture.
The great centres for the manufacture of this fabric are Dundee and Calcutta, and every variety of the cloth, and all kinds of hand- and machine-sewn, as well as seamless bags, are made in the former city. The American name for hessian is burlap; this particular kind is 40 in. wide, and is now largely made in Calcutta as well as in Dundee and other places.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)