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Hessian, or burlap in the US and Canada, is a woven fabric usually made from skin of the jute plant or sisal fibres, or may be combined with other vegetable fibres to make rope, nets, and similar products. Gunny cloth is similar.
Hessian, a dense woven fabric, has been historically 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 "burlap" appears to be of unknown origin, although the word could mean "coarse piece of cloth". The name "hessian" is attributed to the use of the fabric, initially, as part of the uniform of soldiers from the German state of Hesse who were called "Hessians".
Hessian was first exported from India in the early 19th century. It was traditionally used as backing for linoleum, rugs and carpet.
Shipping and construction
Hessian is also often used for the transportation of unprocessed "green" tobacco. This material is used for much the same reasons as it would be used for coffee. Hessian sacks in the tobacco industry hold up to 200 kg (440lb) of tobacco, and due to hessian's toughness, a hessian sack can have a useful life of up to 3 years.
Landscaping and agriculture
Owing to its durability, open weave, naturally non-shiny refraction, and fuzzy texture, Ghillie suits for 3D camouflage are often made of hessian. It was also a popular material for camouflage scrim on combat helmets of World War II. Until the advent of the plastic "leafy" multi-colour net system following the Vietnam War, burlap scrim was also woven onto shrimp and fish netting to create large-scale military camouflage netting. During the Great Depression in the US, cloth became relatively scarce in the largely agrarian parts of the country. Many farmers used burlap cloth to sew their own clothes. However, prolonged exposure to sensitive skin can cause rashes.
Emergency flood response
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