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Home » Silk Road Facts » Silk Trade & Products in China

Silk Trade & Products in China

China is the first country to breed silkworms and to make silk into clothing in the world. In ancient time, China was called "The Empire of Clothing" because of the trade of Chinese silk products.

Known as the queen of costuming, silk came forth as early as 5000 years ago in valley of Yellow River. However, very few people know when or where or how silk is exactly discovered. But since then, silk is well known to be one of the best materials for clothing - it has a look and feeling of richness that no other materials can match. The success of silk has contributed a lots to Chinese costume, economy, art and culture and become a part of Chinese civilization.

Then silk trade had been well developed in Shang and Zhou dynasty and reached a height in the Han dynasty in China. In 126 BC, Hanwu emperor started a policy to promote Chinese silk west forwards to the world. Thus a famous 'The Silk Road' was built from overland trade routes. The manufactured silk goods were transported as far away as Rome from Chang'an (today's Xian). Later on, there was also a Marine Silk Road extended by Zheng He from Quanzhou, Fujian, Xuwen, Guangdong or Hepu, Guangxi to Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, India, Sri Lanka, Red Sea around Arabism and eventually transported to Rome via the Mediterranean. Silk industry and products had been well developed into a new stage.

In ancient China, silk materials were sorted in fourtheen variation: Sha(Gauze), Luo(leno), Ling (Ghatpot), Jvn(yarn-dyed silk fabric), Fang(Habotai), Xiao(Chiffon), Zhou(Crepe), Jin(Brocade), Duan(Satin), Rong(Velvet), Ti(Bengaline), Ge(Poplin), Ni(Suiting silk), Chou(Silk filament fabric) and more according to weaving process.  


Silk Products
Silk's absorbency makes it comfortable to wear in warm weather and while active. Its low conductivity keeps warm air close to the skin during cold weather.

1. Silk Clothing & Dress
Thus silk materials is often used for clothing such as shirts, ties, blouses, formal dresses, high fashion clothes, lining, lingerie, pajamas, robes, dress suits, sun dresses and Eastern folk costumes. Besides the daily clothing, bridal veil dress for wedding and Cheong-sam or Chi-pao for formal social occasions are something special.   

2. Silk Decorations
Silk's attractive lustre and drape makes it suitable for many furnishing applications. It is used for upholstery, wall coverings, window treatments, table silk flowers, silk screen printings, rugs, bedding and wall hangings.

3. Silk Embroidery Art
In arts and crafts of Chinese costume, embroidery has just earned a good reputation next to that of silk due to textile industry was highly developed; embroidery was made to clothing, skirts, quilt sheets and pillow-suits that kind of article for use.  

While on the decline now, due to artificial fibers, silk has had many industrial and commercial uses, such as in parachutes, bicycle tires, comforter filling and artillery gunpowder bags.

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