A Brief History of Silk


For over 4,000 years silk has been regarded by the Chinese as the finest fabric available. Historically, it has been a cloth exclusively for royalty and aristocrats. According to Chinese legend, silk was discovered in 2640 BC by the third wife of China’s third Emperor. While she was having tea underneath a mulberry tree in the garden, a small cocoon fell from the tree into her cup of hot tea. She was surprised to see the cocoon start to unravel, revealing a long delicate thread. Being intrigued by this fiber and its strength, she collected thousands of cocoons and wove the fibers into a robe for the Emperor.At first, he was the only one who had the privilege of wearing this beautiful fabric however; soon the members of the court were granted permission.

 

As more high valued silk was being produced throughout the years, it started to be used as currency. China eventually started to trade silk outside of Asia through an ancient network of trade routes known as the Silk Road.

 

Started in the 2nd Century AD, this route opened up cultural trade relationships via several interconnected routes linking Asia, the Mediterranean and Europe. For over 2,500 years the secret of making silk had been exclusive to the Chinese. As this secret continued to be past throughout the generations, the techniques of silk production continued to spread East and West. By the 15th century France and Italy that became the leading European manufacturers of silk products.