The project “TEXTILIA LINNAEANA – Global 18th-century Textile Traditions & Trade” has in several parts been worked together with the international research and publishing project “The Linnaeus Apostles – Global Science & Adventure” (published 2007-2012). The topics I primarily have studied cover:

  • Trade with textiles
  • Natural dyeing of yarn and fabrics
  • Plants for dyeing
  • Textile materials
  • Spinning and weaving
  • Other textile techniques; like knitting, embroidery, bark fabrics (Tapa) etc.
  • Textiles for interior use and bed linen
  • Materials in garments, as well as personal travel clothes

The historical source materials are numerous and give significant and firsthand facts about the above mentioned textile topics, which are discussed in confined geographical areas as well as through an international 18th century perspective. Textile history as an interdisciplinary subject gives insight to; economic questions, technological innovations within textile manufacturing, ethnobiology, natural and cultural history along with studies linked with flora and fauna related to dyeing plants. An extract from the Apostle Pehr Kalm’s travel journal between Arendal and Grimstad in Norway 1747 shows a coherent example of an observation about dyeing;

The womenfolk of the farmers were said not to practice dyeing much in this area, as they usually buy most of their clothes and textiles from foreign places, especially the clothes that they use at festivals and on Sundays; a few of them, however, are said to dye cloth yellow with birch leaves, blue with indigo, brown with a kind of lichen.

The publication’s main aim is to increase the understanding of the 18th century’s rich textile history, an area within the textile studies – the observations of Carl Linnaeus and his 17 Apostles – which have never been compared, researched and published before. Neither in Swedish or English.

BACKGROUND The Linnaeus 17 Apostles were Sweden’s first scientific global travellers, young men who during half a century travelled to roughly fifty countries in all seven continents under commission of the famous naturalist Carl Linnaeus, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, The Swedish East India Company or other Swedish patrons. Along with several other countries’ organisers, where some of the Apostles were engaged and participated in expeditions; Peter Forsskål was linked to the Danish, Johan Peter Falck to the Russians, Pehr Löfling to the Spaniards, Carl Peter Thunberg to the Dutch, as well as Daniel Solander, Andreas Berlin and Adam Afzelius to the British. A few instructions from the distant travellers have been preserved, but it is believed that most had a range of conditions to abide, to in the best possible way complete their scientific assignment and through these instructions textile related wishes could be included. Nevertheless Sweden was by no means alone in the search of natural objects beneficial for their country, this had taken place for centuries in several European countries; mainly through travellers from Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. But Linnaeus’ original idea for his disciples had unique characteristics, mainly with the aim of the discovery of as much as possible at every destination which would later be used for a collected natural-history beneficiary for the mother country. This did not affect only the strict botanical and zoological studies, but just as much the various traditions and clothes that were taken into account, how cotton seeds grew, the manufacturing process of indigo, how unknown textile fibers could be used for spinning, gathered collections of ethnographica etc. Several of the Apostles also completed observations within the Nordic countries, either as separate journeys, on their way to more far-away locations or residing for short or long periods of time in the area. Norwegian conditions were studied by for example Pehr Kalm, Adam Afzelius and Anton Rolandsson Martin (including Spitsbergen). Daniel Solander completed research in Iceland whilst Kalm and Rolandsson Martin under longer periods of time were living in Finland. Meanwhile Danish traditions were observed in København or Helsingør by Göran Rothman, Peter Forsskål och Carl Peter Thunberg at the beginning of their non-European journeys.


2006-2010 Field work, research and natural dyeing experiments.

2009-2013 Research and writing of the main text.

2013-2014 Search for illustrations and writing of captions.

2013 Spring Start of translation from Swedish to English by Mrs Eivor Cormack. (Member SELTA)

2014-2015 Conclusions, Image search, Editing, etc.

2016 Indexing, Design etc & Printing of publication.

2017 (January) Publishing of the publication.

FACTS The conclusions of the project is going to be published in the international learned Mundus Linnæi Series No: V. The IK Foundation & Company (Monograph of 520 pp, January 2017)


The work has kindly been supported by;

The IK Foundation & Company (2006-2012)

Thora Ohlsson Foundation (2012)

The Royal Patriotic Society (2012 & 2016)

Estrid Ericson Foundation (2012)

Letterstedt Society (2012)

Jacob Wallenberg’s Foundation (2013)

Private donation (2014)

Birgit and Sven Håkan Ohlsson Foundation (2016) 

Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation (2016)

[June 1st, 2013, renewed March 2017]


Welcome to read extracts of texts in progress from the project:


  • Hansen, Viveka, ‘Textilia Linnaeana – Global 18th Century Textile Traditions & Trade’, TEXTILIS (June 1, 2013); http://textilis.net/ (Accessed: Day/Month/Year)

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On this site “T E X T I L I S  – Viveka Hansen’s Textile Thoughts” I would like to share my work with you all who are interested in textile history.


My idea for the site is to show my current research as well as depicting my previous textile projects from my archive dating back three decades. Textile history or Textile studies is a facinating interdisciplinary subject and are primarily from my point of research including; domestic handcraft, textile manufactures, natural dyeing, trade, fashion, laundry, recycling and advertisement during the period from 18th to early 20th century. Welcome to enjoy a world of patterns and vivid colours, I hope this site will be inspirational to both practical and theoretical readers around the world.

For more detailed biographical facts, please feel free to browse the sites ABOUT and PUBLICISE under the menu BIO.

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