"Mohair" is derived from Arabic (mukhayyar, a goat's hair cloth). The goat in question, the Angora (Capra hircus) is thought to have originated in Tibet. Turkey was the centre of mohair textile production before the goat was introduced, during the 19th century, to southern Africa and the USA. Angora goats are shorn twice a year and yield from one to almost two pounds of mohair.
Mohair's diameter ranges from 23 microns at first shearing to 38 microns in older animals. Light and insulating, its tensile strength is significantly higher than that of merino wool. Like wool, mohair has surface scales, but they are thinner, making it smooth to the touch. Light reflected from the surface gives mohair a characteristic luster.
Current world output of mohair is estimated at around 5000 tons a year, down from a high of 25,000 tons in the 1990s, when the fibre ranked second only to wool. South Africa accounts for 60% of total production. Almost all South African mohair is exported raw or semi-processed to textile makers in Europe, the UK and the Far East.