Monday, March 21, 2016

Sewing History │ The Silk Road (丝绸之路)

I love silk! It is by far my favorite fabric. Its lustre and luxurious appearance can make any well-constructed garment look like a masterpiece. It was first developed in China by empress Lei Zu, who taught people how to raise silkworms and extract the silk. Silk was originally made only for the elite in China, mainly because the silkworm only has a lifespan of 28days and can only produce a maximum of about 3300 feet of silk. But the demand for silk increased when ordinary people became interested in it and it became very popular.

During the period of the Chinese Han Dynasty, the production of silk increased so much that it became a major export to Europe. Many nobles in Europe, such as Queen Cleopatra, became very fascinated with silk, which led to an increase in the demand for silk outside China. This increased demand led to the development of the Silk Road – a major trade route between China and the Mediterranean. Back in the day it wasn’t called the Silk Road, of course, but silk was by far the most traded product along this ancient route.

So much silk was traded along this route that, in 1877, German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen gave this famous route the name Silk Road. The Silk Road was used for a lot of cultural exchange between China and the West, and it was through this route that the technologies of silkworm breeding and silk spinning were transmitted to the West.



  1. I do believe that wealth in Europe was calculated by how much silk was owned - I think it had a currency value. Also, it was death to anyone smuggling silk out of China, as it was so valuable as a trading commodity.

  2. Wow, I didn't know that. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing. :-)