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Silesian Weavers

Collection: 
Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin

 

In 1892, German writer Gerhart Hauptmann published his play The Weavers, based on the weavers’ revolt in his native region of Silesia.

 

Arnost Klima sheds light on the absolute dependency on cottage industry spinning and weaving for survival in Bohemia, where conditions were very similar to the part of Silesia where  weavers revolted in 1844:

“The putting-out system played the most important part in the production of industrial goods in eighteenth-century Bohemia, especially in the production of linen…This is certainly due to the very high quality of Bohemian flax, which for centuries had been processed within the country. An idea of the volume of this production can be gained from official statements that in 1772 there were in Bohemia 230,000 flax spinners – a figure which rose in subsequent years. In a part of northern Bohemia, in 1793, upward of 500,000 people were reported as earning their living entirely by spinning and weaving….Spinning employed chiefly those who possessed no land at all or only very little, for whom it constituted their main occupation…”

Arnost Klima, “The Role of Rural Domestic Industry in Bohemia in the Eighteenth Century,” The Economic History Review, vol. 27, no. 1 (February 1974): 49.

About the Artist

Born: Oels, Silesia (now Olenica, Poland), 27 January 1806
Died: Loschwitz, near Dresden, 7 November 1882
Nationality: German