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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Big is Sometimes Best: The Sokoto Caliphate and Economic Advantages of Size in the Textile Industry
Author:Shea, Philip J.
Year:2006
Periodical:African Economic History
Volume:34
Pages:5-21
Language:English
Geographic terms:Nigeria
Northern Nigeria
Subjects:textile industry
Sokoto polity
Economics and Trade
History and Exploration
Development and Technology
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/25427024
Abstract:The Sokoto Caliphate, established in northern Nigeria following the 1804 jihad led by Shehu dan Fodio, was the largest single polity in 19th-century sub-Saharan Africa. Considerable economic benefits derived from its very size, and some of these benefits were passed on to producers and consumers throughout the Caliphate. As the textile industry was one of the most important industries in the Sokoto Caliphate, the size of the Caliphate had enormous economic advantages for the producers of indigo-dyed textiles and for those involved in the textile trade. It brought various cloth producers from different traditions within the Caliphate together, while also bringing different textile traditions from outside into a new intimacy with these groups. Thus, the quality of cloth improved and the variety of textiles increased. This article examines the development of textile technology in 19th-century Sokoto, notably indigo-dying technology, technological shifts in hand-weaving, and changing labour practices. It argues that as a result of these developments the quality of cloth improved and that this improved quality was accompanied by an increasing variety of textiles. Furthermore, the expansion in textile production had the added advantage of making textiles which were increasingly cheap and therefore somewhat easier for more individuals to obtain. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]
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