Animal fibers

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Bowl lyre (ndongo)
MFA# 17.2179
Drawstring bag
MFA# 52.454


Any fiber obtained from animal sources. Examples are Alpaca, Angora, Camel, Cashmere, Mohair, Silk, Vicuna, and Wool. In general, animal fibers do not burn as readily as vegetable fibers. Instead, animal fibers tend to char and emit mildly nitrogenous odors characteristic of burnt hair. Except for silk, all animal fibers can be microscopically characterized by their tiny surface scales and center shaft (Cortex).

See FRIL for microscopic images of animal fibers.

Synonyms and Related Terms

animal fibres (Br.); fibras animales (Esp.); fibre animale (Fr.); dierlijke vezels (Ned);

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Does not burn readily.
  • Dissolves in strong alkalis.
  • Fibers have tiny surface scales and center shaft


Properties of Natural Fibers

Resources and Citations

  • M.Goodway "Fiber Identification in Practice" JAIC 26:27-44, 1987. LINK
  • Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Dictionary of Fiber & Textile Technology (older version called Man-made Fiber and Textile Dictionary, 1965), Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Charlotte NC, 1990
  • S.R.Trotman, E.R. Trotman, Textile Analysis, J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, 1932