Sunday, November 8, 2009

International Mohair Summit

Last week I attended the inaugural biennial International Mohair Summet. Hosted by Mohair South Africa, the summit took place in the Karoo towns of Graaff Reinet and Jansenville from 3 to 8 November and brought together role players in the mohair farming, production and fashion sectors from all over the world.

In 1839, the Mosenthal family first imported angora goats from Turkey. The region in Turkey where the goats came from is called Ankara or Angora, hence the name ‘angora goat’.
The goats, included twelve rams and two ewes, arrived in South Africa accompanied by their Turkish handlers. On arrival in Port Elizabeth, it was discovered that the rams had been sterilised prior to leaving Turkey to safe guard the country's mohair industry. Unbeknown to the Turkish, one of the two ewes was later found to be pregnant and gave birth to a ram kid, which was the start of our the South African mohair industry. Today South Africa produces over 50% of the world's mohair, also called the Noble or Diamond fibre. The majority of this mohair gets exported through Port Elizabeth, making the city the mohair capital of the world.

The majority of the activities took place in the Karoo town of Graaff Reinet. Graaff Reinet is situated about 270km north of my home town of Port Elizabeth. The town must be one of my favorite places and is the fourth oldest town in South Africa, with over 220 heritage sites. The town is also surrounded by the Camdeboo National Park with its main feature being the Valley of Desolation. The area is also well known for its rich wealth in fossils.

The Summit included a conference, trade show, shearing demonstrations and various Angora goat and mohair competitions. Before this I knew very little about mohair, but I have learned tons during the two days I attended. Over the next couple of days I would like to share with you some of my new found knowledge as well as the sights and sounds (ok, so I don't really have sounds to share) of the mohair summit and the Graaff Reinet area.


  1. Oh, Mohair is such a wonderful textile. That's a great story of how the goats came to SA Jonker. I look forward to more about this convention.

  2. My uncle used to farm mohair on the Peddie side of Grahamstown - the farm eventually was bought up and turned into a game farm. I believed mohair farming to be on the wane... glad to see that's not the case! Great pics :)

  3. It's always fun to learn and photograph at the same time. I'm looking forward to what you'll be sharing with the rest of us!

  4. I hear about this on the TV last night Jonker. What a great idea and I am sure tourists are going to love this new route.

  5. I bought myself a pair of "Fagan" gloves in mohair and they are my favourite. Interesting fact: when I bought them, I was told to care for them like I would my hair. Wash in a gently shampoo and rinse in conditioner! Intersting post today! (As always!)