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The Angora goat originated from Tibet making its way to Turkey in the 16th century. Until 1849, the Turkish province of Ankara was the sole producer of Angora goats and Muslim Turkey controlled the industry.


In 1554 the goats were exported to Europe unsuccessfully. The Sultan of Turkey placed a strict embargo on exports of Angora goats or mohair from the 15th century. In 1838 Colonel Henderson imported the first Angora goats from the Ottoman Empire to Port Elizabeth in the Cape Colony (now South Africa). The Turks had made the goats infertile as they did not want the breed to spread outside Turkey. But one ewe gave birth to a kid during the voyage and it was from this that the original flocks in the Cape were bred. The fertile ram adapted well to the Cape climate and several flocks were eventually raised in the Cape. In 1852 and later more Angora goats were imported from Turkey.
Mohair is a silky luxury fiber obtained from Angora goats and in 1857 the first mohair was shipped from the Cape to the UK. The word mohair is derived from the Arabic mukhayyar (choice). In 1856 the first Angora goats were exported to Argentina. By 1882 South Africa’s mohair was regarded as equal to Turkey’s in quality. By 1899 the quality of Cape mohair exceeded that of Turkey and the Cape passed Turkey in mohair export quantities. Today South African mohair is the purest and finest in the world and South Africa produces 61% of the total world production with most produced in the Eastern Cape. Port Elizabeth is the unofficial capital of the industry.
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