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I had it exactly backwards

The word ‘chintzy’ drifted across my consciousness this afternoon. By the diktat of my new lockdown rules, that means I had to look up ‘chintz’.

I knew it was a fabric. I was astonished to learn it isn’t so much. It’s more about the style of decoration. It originated in 16th Century India – the word is derived from the Hindi chīnt, meaning spotted or freckled. It’s about the busy, often floral block prints.

But chintz was often printed on calico, another word I completely misunderstood. Calico is a rough fabric made from unbleached cotton, and by ‘unbleached’ I mean not fully processed so there’s still bits of shit in it. Also from India, 16th C, named after the city of Calicut (not to be confused with Calcutta).

So gaudy print + cheap fabric = chintzy. I thought calico was the decoration and chintz was the fabric. I was bassackwards.

And while we’re here, muslin (a much more refined woven cotton than calico) was named for Mosul, as in Iraq. Where it isn’t actually from.

And that’s the end of today’s edition of “Things You Could Damn Well Have Looked Up on Wikipedia Yourownself If You Cared.”


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 26, 2021, 6:27 pm

I’ve been around the Internet for a while. I knew I shouldn’t click a YouTube video with the title “Dog fart cat puke”. Why am I so lame?

Comment from BJM
Time: January 26, 2021, 6:57 pm

I’ve been reading in the Regency period and fine muslin was the go-to for women’s fashions.

Funny that Stoaty should post this coz I’ve been following several fashion historians on YT. It turns out there is a historical fashion subculture florishing on YT. I can’t drop more links, but search for Bernadette Banner and Costume analysis. Abbey Cox and Karolina Żebrowska are two more that I follow…I’m not sure if these ladies are nuts, obsessed or just quirky, but they are entertaining.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: January 26, 2021, 8:30 pm

Dungaree is another Indian (subcontinent of) word.

But only sailors and people growing up in the Northeast call their “blue jeans” dungarees, we all did, but I don’t know if they still do.

From a village near Bombay, named Dongri – Hindi word(name) for the type of cloth is Dungri.

Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: January 26, 2021, 9:02 pm

More things that I did not know that I did not know. Interesting to learn of these unknown things.

Comment from Stephen Falken
Time: January 26, 2021, 10:49 pm

Stoaty, the latest Dead Pool does not show up in the sidebar link. I think you need to add the deadpool tag or something to make that work.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 26, 2021, 10:54 pm

Thanks for that, Stephen. Now fixed.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: January 26, 2021, 11:00 pm

Ikea ran a long advertising campaign when it was getting established in the UK, urging us to ‘chuck out the chintz’. Of course, it was trying to get us to ditch our traditional style in favour of Scandihoovian minimalism (which I prefer to call ‘Danish abortionist waiting room chic’).

Curiously, the ‘traditional English country house’ style was pretty much a concoction of the 1930s and ’40s by the designer team of Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler, who worked together (or, more often, against one another, apparently).

In its way, it was as much a ‘movement’ as any other, but it doesn’t appeal to the post-modernists

I must admit, I am more at home with ol’ Sybil, than I am Stainless Steel Lars.

Badger house has a touch of Colefax’s trademark faded glory – sadly concealed beneath layers of dust, cat hair, 16th century furniture and remote islands of high-tech anomalies floating in a haze of dust from the wood stove, desperately yearning for a USB connection.

Not much Denmark here (apart from Her Stoatliness’s horned helmet, which she has occasionally been known to wear when riding her electric bicycle, much to the consternation of the locals, many of whom baa at her in bewilderment. As do the sheep).

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: January 27, 2021, 12:37 am

“If I were king of the forrreeesssssst
Not queen,
Not duke,
Not prince.
My regal robes of the forrrreeessssssst
would be satin,
not cotton,
not chintz”

Now! Who’s badmouthin Swedish Wal-Mart!

Comment from BJM
Time: January 27, 2021, 12:55 am

@Durned Ah…but dungarees aren’t jeans, they are work pants. The indigo we think of as the blue of denim cloth was introduced from a nomadic Saharan Berber tribe, the Tuareg, in formerly French Soudan…they are still known as the “Blue People or Blue Men” from the blue dye that rubs off their clothing and tints their skin.

The word denim is from the French serge de Nimes, dating back to the 17th century. The word jeans derives from the 15th century Old French Genes (Genoa).

Genoa was famous for a sturdy, deep blue cotton cloth, ideally suited to making tough work clothes for fishermen, seamen, dock workers and miners. The cloth was named ‘Bleu de Gênes’ (the blue of Genoa), which would later devolve into the English derivative ‘jeans.’

The majority of this Bleu de Gênes cloth was exported to the French town of Nîmes, which was then the European metropolis of weavers and ribbon makers.

The weavers in Nîmes soon began experimenting with producing their own blue cloth, which was similarly robust and durable.

Soon, the French cloth had its own name: Tenue de Nîmes (Clothes from Nîmes), short de Nîmes, which the English and Americans eventually turned into ‘denim’.

In the 1870’s Messrs. Levi & Strauss improved dungarees by top stitching seams, adding brass rivets at stress points, belt loops and a watch pocket thus creating “waist overalls”, they weren’t called jeans again until the 1950’s when some Mad man coined “blue jeans”.

A Hunnert years ago…or so it seems…I worked on a French denim marketing project. Most days I can’t tell you where I left my cell phone, but this stuff readily bubbles up.

Comment from Teej
Time: January 27, 2021, 1:45 am

Damn. That ‘chintz jacket and neckerchief’ photo in the wiki link is to DIE for.
If I still had a waistline.
Unky B. ‘Danish abortionist waiting room chic’ — #snort#

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: January 27, 2021, 2:30 am

@BJM – I used to wonder why we called them ‘dungarees’. But we called all of them Dungarees. Levi/Strauss or Wrangler, or probably knowing my old man, some off brand that cost less than Wranglers. All ‘Dungarees’ 😀

That bit of history is neat though! thank you!

I suffer from the same issue, remembering useful stuff?
shoot no.
Go ahead and ask me the name of the runner who told the Athenians the Greeks had won at Marathon.

Since it’s of a sailing/working nature, along with Dungarees…

New England is full of odd expressions, another one inherited from my Rhode Island/Maine ancestors was the expression – “Going Down Maine”.
Of course any idiot living north of Boston could tell you that Maine is “up”, not down because it’s north on the map, right?
But it IS ‘downwind’ of Boston in terms of prevailing breezes for sail powered vessels.
Hence “down Maine” and/or “Down East”.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: January 27, 2021, 1:14 pm

If anyone cares, there’s a new statistical report at the end of DP 138. Also a comment about the DP history of Larry King seems to be stuck in the spam trap.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 27, 2021, 3:47 pm

Train lines in the UK go “down” to London and “up” from London to somewhere else. Or is it the other way round?

Comment from BJM
Time: January 27, 2021, 7:30 pm

@Durned…regional differences fer sure. East coast grinders vs West coast subs.

I remember dungarees was common usage until Elvis, Brando & Dean hit the screens. Being raised in SF’s orbit they were always Levis and the only model was the straight leg, 3 button fly in men’s sizes. You had to soak new Levis and wear them until they dried to get the proper shrinkage/fit. We cut the hems off which made a soft roll of fringe. I still wear 501’s.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: January 27, 2021, 7:55 pm

@BJM – I do remember I had a pair of super wide bell bottom jeans (err, dungarees 🙂 )

I also remember them getting eaten by my bike chain and front sprocket after I took the chain guard came off. Oh, and a very exciting wreck too.

And I finally graduated to Levis, because yes, they fit better and are more comfortable. But it took about 55 years.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: January 27, 2021, 9:36 pm

Wonderful stuff, about jeans, BJM – thank you!

And no, trains go up TO London or down FROM London. I casually and unthinkingly dropped that into a conversation I was having with a lady and her young daughter in a coffee shop some years ago. The mother suddenly interrupted my observation along the lines of ‘Listen darling, what that funny old man just said was a quaint phrase about going ‘up’ to London. It’s something people used to say in the olden days’.

I was minded to bite the hag but forbore on account ov me fundamental good nature, wot we badgers is famous for.

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