A Brief History of Silk
A natural yarn discovered in China over 10,000 years ago, for a long time, silk was a material reserved for the Emperor of China and those very close to him, such as important family members and very high-ranking dignitaries. Some sources write about how the Emperor always wore white silk within his imperial palace, and yellow silk when venturing outside.
Gradually, the restrictions on who could wear and use silk in China began to vanish, and more and more people could be seen sporting silk clothing and decorating with silk ornaments.
Eventually, silk production grew to become quite a large industry in China. Silk was used for a variety of things, from fishing-lines and bowstrings to musical instruments. Earlier, documents had been written on silk cloth. Now, Chinese paper makers developed techniques for making more affordable, yet still luxurious, paper where silk rags were mixed with other naturally occurring fibres to make the pulp.
Soon, silk was present in so many aspects of Chinese life that it began altering the language. Even today, well over 200 of the 5,000 most commonly used characters in Mandarin texts have silk as their “key”.
It would take until the 1100s before silk production was established in Europe. During the time of the Second Crusade, 2,000 skilled silk weavers from Constantinople arrived to Italy, setting up their business there.
To date no one has been able to emulate its beauty and versatility. Silk is 100% natural and hypoallergenic so not only on trend in terms of design but also in keeping with today’s interests in wellbeing, anti-manmade fibres which destroy the environment.
Oscar de la Renta claimed “Silk does for the body what diamonds do for the hand”