Strictly speaking, barracan is a type of heavy fabric made from camel hair. However, barracan is today used to refer to other types of heavy fabric made of cotton wool or flax. It is also written as baracan, bouracan and barragan.
Barracan in its original form (that is the form made of camel hair), was most commonly used to make outer garments but this is not so today. However, it is still used to make outer garments in the Levant region perhaps for the simple reason that people in these areas keep camels. The Levant region is made up of countries in the Mediterranean region which include Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria and Iraq.
Baraccan can be described as being heavy fabric that is closely woven. The warp ends and weft picks are hard twisted. The fabric is quite commonly mixed with other types of yarn for example you can substitute the hard twist worsted warp end with wool or silk while you can substitute the weft picks with mohair. The fabric is smooth to the touch depending on the different types of yarns used.
There are different types of baraccan. One such fabric is Camelot baraccan. This particular type of fabric is woven in such a way that the warp is heavier than the weft.
Baraccan fabric had a smooth, glossy surface and was mostly used to make coats, surtouts, cloaks and other outer garments for both men and women. This is because it was resistant to moisture, dampness and very warm. It was also a readily available fabric and therefore not very expensive.
Camel hair is of two types. The outer hairs which are usually very coarse and longer than the under coat hair which is soft and fine. The finer under coat hair is preferred as it is soft, lightweight and has a fine luster. The camel hair can be quite expensive and this is the reason it is commonly blended with other fabrics to reduce the cost. The most commonly blended fabric is wool, however. The wool also makes the fabric last longer as it is more durable. There are some imitations of this fabric which use goat hair with a mixture of silk.
Depending on the type, baraccan is today used to make sweaters, suits, coats, hosiery, tweeds, shawls and other items of clothing, blankets, rugs, and carpets. The camel hair is usually left in its original color which ranges from light brown to dark brown. However it can be dyed in other colors such as red and blue.
As with any natural fabric, baraccan should be well taken care of. Special care should be taken in laundering it, and to ensure it lasts long, it should be dry-cleaned.