Aleppo: Silk Weavers

Date: 1750s-1770s

Vast numbers of people were employed in the weaving of silk, with looms being located in large factories as well as in private houses. Much of the silk thread was spun by women. See also: Weaver of Cotton; Weaver of Wool; Dyer; Spinner.

Citation: Russell, Alexander. The Natural History of Aleppo, containing a Description of the City, and the principal natural Productions in its Neighbourhood. Together with an Account of the Climate, Inhabitants, and Diseases; particularly of the Plague, Second edition, revised, enlarged and illustrated by Patrick Russell (London: G. G. and J. Robinson, Pater-noster Row, 1794), I: pp. 161-62.

Aleppo: Silk Weavers

Date: Early nineteenth century

The merchants in the Market of the Syrians (Sūq al-Shāmiyya) in Mecca sold numerous items manufactured in Syria, including “silk stuffs from Damascus and Aleppo”. The account does not make clear whether these silks were plain or ornamented, making it impossible to determine which specialists were responsible for their manufacture.

Citation: Burckhardt, John Lewis, Travels in Arabia: Comprehending an Account of those Territories in the Hedjaz which the Mohammedans regard as sacred ((London: Henry Colburn, 1829. Reprinted, London: Frank Cass, 1968), pp. 120-21.

See also: Milwright, Marcus, “Trade and the Syrian Hajj between the 12th and the early 20th Centuries: Historical and archaeological Perspectives”, in Venetia Porter and Liana Saif, eds, The Hajj: Collected Essays, Research Publications 193 (London: British Museum Press, 2013), p. 34.

Date: c. 1840

Sir John Bowring (d. 1872) estimates that there were approximately 1,200 silk and cotton looms in Aleppo. Weavers produced about one piece per day. Bowring also found that the manufacturing of silk has considerably declined, as there were up to 6,000 looms in operation in 1829. This decline was caused by a lack of demand for these expensive silk textiles. See also: Cotton Weaver.

Citation: Bowring, John. Report on the Commercial Statistics of Syria (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1840. Reprinted: New York: Arno Press, 1973), pp. 20-21.

Date: 1850s

According to British Foreign Office correspondence and reports, there were 5,500 looms operating in 1856 and 10,000 in 1859. These numbers compared to a high point of 40,000 looms in earlier times. See also: Cotton Weaver.

Citation: Maʿoz, Moshe, Ottoman Reform in Syria and Palestine, 1840-1861. The Impact of the Tanzimat on Politics and Society (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), p. 179.

Aleppo: Silk Weavers

Date: 1934

The traditional silk weaving industry of the city was given a boost by the imposition in 1932 of higher tariffs on imported silk and artificial silk. The number of handlooms producing silk in 1934 is claimed to be 6,000. This represents an expansion on earlier years (1909 = 4,500; 1913 = 3,940; 1926 = 1,500; 1927 = 1,835; 1928 = 1,800). The designs woven into these silks tend to follow European fashions, with more local styles in decline. Weavers also produced crêpes and poplins. See also: Lace Maker; Cotton Weaver; Wool Weaver.

Citation: Hakim, George, “Industry”, in Himadeh, Saʿid B., ed., Economic Organization of Syria (Beirut: The American Press, 1936. Reprinted New York: AMS Press, 1973, pp. pp. 150-53, tables XIV-XVIII.