Angora refers to the downy coat produced by the Angora rabbit characterised by its softness and slipperiness to handle. This is a result of the cell structure of the hair and the three mantle layers in the pelt:
- External: protective and slippery – bristle/spiky, coarse, shiny and spearhead – like (about 50mic), with sensory hairs
- Average: awn/fluff similar to the above but a little shorter and thinner (15mic) which gives body and softness
- The undercoat: down, duvet and very fine (11-12 mic) wavy, dull thermal insulator (eight times more than wool fibres, specific weight of 1.15gr/cm against 1.30gr/cm)
1st grade fibre is taken from the back and upper sides of the rabbit. This is longest and cleanest fibre. 2nd grade quality is taken from the neck and lower sides. 3rd grade quality is from the buttocks and legs; this is a shorter fibre and easily felts.
Angora is used in apparel such as sweaters, suiting, knitting yarns and felting.
We are aware of some recent bad press on how some Angora suppliers obtain the fibre from their rabbits. We wish to reassure our customers that none of the Angora we supply is obtained by live plucking. All Angora hair we buy is obtained by either clipping using scissors or shearing using clippers and the animals are stress free. The rabbits are well looked after and have good living conditions.
Please view these two videos from our main chineses suppliers showing the conditions in which animals are kept and how the fibre is collected.
Angora fibre collection and feeding
At Seal International we aim to work with suppliers we have had relationships with for many years and who excellent animal husbandry procedures in place. Animal welfare is an on-going focus for our business.
There is no definite information on the place of origin of this breed of rabbit. It is a selective genetic mutation, which created the common domestic rabbit. From these, careful selection and husbandry of various long haired white, mixed grey, plain black and brown produced the four or five major breeds of Angora rabbits.
It is believed they originate from the Carpathian Mountains, the Black Sea or from the area around Ankara which led to the name. There is an alternative school and theory that the original strain could be from the United Kingdom.
It seems that in 100BC the Romans were the first to tame the Angora rabbit and obtain the hair, fur and meat. We know that under Henry VIII around 1500 the Angora rabbit was so highly regarded that it was forbidden to export it and it was described as “Silk English Hare”. Fine fabrics were manufactured with its hair and exported all over the world.
Despite these restrictions, specimens were smuggled across Europe with references and traces being found at a court of France in the eighteenth century and also in Franconia/Germany, Saxony, Slesia, Vienna and Prague.