We have been asked many a time what the difference between Jute bags, Hessian bags & Burlap bags is. Lets put a rest to this old age debate of what the difference between these are, most importantly why they are called what they are called. As a first, we know that these bags are made from the fabric that is either called Hessian, Burlap & Jute. Before these fabrics were used to make bags they were usually used to make ropes, nets, sacks & even soldier uniforms. So let’s look a little deeper into each type of bag:
Hessian is the name for a type of material mainly used in Australia and mainland Europe. The name Hessian actually originated from the German state of Hessen. Hessen, Hessian dialect: (Hesse) is a federal state (Land) of the Federal Republic of Germany, with just over six million inhabitants. The name “hessian” is attributed to the use of the fabric, initially, as part of the uniform of soldiers from the German state of Hessen who were called “Hessians.” The name then was used for the material whether it was used to make sacks, ropes or bags.
Burlap is the same material as Hessian. The word Burlap is used widely in America and Canada. The origin is unknown, though its earliest known appearance is in the late 17th century, and its etymology is speculated to derive from the Middle English borel (“coarse cloth”), the Old French burel and/or the Dutch boeren (“coarse”), in the latter case perhaps interfused with boer(“peasant”). The second element, ~lap, means “piece of cloth”.
An alternative to the words Hessian and Burlap, Jute is a word used by Great Britain and its colonies. The word jute is probably coined from the word jhuta or jota, an Oriya word as Wikipedia puts it. It actually originated from the Indian subcontinent. Oriya is a language spoken by 4.2% of India’s population. It was a word adopted by the British when they colonised India. India after all is the largest producer of Jute.
Now you get a good idea of what each of the words Hessian, Burlap and Jute originated from. All refer to the same material used to make ropes, nets, sacks and bags. Whether you call it Hessian, Burlap or Jute – the words mean the same thing. The only difference is it depends where you are when you speak it. Hessian is mainly used in Australia and mainland Europe, Burlap is mainly used in America & Canada and Jute mainly in Great Britain and its group of common wealth countries. Although as the world gets smaller and people travel these words no longer are geographically exclusive. They are now very much interchangeably used through out the world.