This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Gunny. A strong and extremely coarse cloth manufactured chiefly in Bengal from jute, but to some extent in Madras and Bombay from sunn-hemp. It is also extensively manufactured in Dundee, Scotland. It is used for clothing by many poor people, but principally for bagging and the wrapping of large packages, as cotton bales, for which use large quantities are exported to the United States. In lower Bengal the manufacture of this bagging is the great domestic industry of those ver-popu-lous districts. It pervades all classes, and gives occupation to men, women and children. Boatmen employ themselves weaving it in their spare moments, as also do farmers, carriers, and even domestic servants. It forms the never failing resource and occupation of that most humble, patient and despised of created beings, the Hindoo widow, saved by English law from sacrifice, but condemned by native opinion and custom for the remainder of her days to sack-cloth and ashes, to the lowest domestic drudgery in the very household where once, perhaps, her will was law. Of recent years, however, large quantities of jute have been annually purchased by English and American companies, and shipped to Dundee, Scotland, and to the United States, where it is woven into gunny bagging. In this country it is made in several different qualities, and used for sugar, coffee, and rice sacks, burlaps, furniture wrapping, backing for floor oil cloths, and, most important of all, for wrapping the bales of cotton in' the south. As each bale requires seven yards of gunny cloth, and the annual production of cotton in this country being between seven and eight million bales, the consumption of gunny for this purpose is very great. [See Jute]