Thursday, December 23, 2010
A brief history on Chinese silk(1)
"A silkworm spins all its silk till its death and a candle won't stop its tears until it is fully burnt." This Tang poem accurately describes the property of the silkworm. Despite technological development, a silkworm can only produce a certain amount of silk---1000 meters (3280feet) in its lifespan of 28 days. The rarity of the raw material is the deciding factor of both the value and the mystery of silk.
Legend has it that in ancient times, Lei Zu, the wife of Huang Di , taught people how to raise silkworms and how to extract the silk.
The Warring States Period, the beginning of feudalist society in Chinese history, witnessed a prosperous time. The development of productivity popularized silk and it was no longer a luxury just for aristocrats. The pattern, weaving, embroidery and dyeing skills were all improved as they were influenced by the free ideology of the time, while the silk designs had sense of a free and bold air about them.
The silk products excavated from Mawangdui Han Tomb are proof of the advanced skill and artistry of silk at this time.