TEXTILES & SILK
Images of Sericulture  
   
 

Sericulture (The Process of Making Silk) (details)
early 13th century, attributed to Liang Kai
© The Cleveland Museum of Art

Court Ladies Preparing Newly Woven Silk (detail)
Northern Song dynasty, early 12th century
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

 

Textiles and Silk

The common people mostly wore clothes made of plant fibers such as hemp and ramie, and, at the end of the period, cotton — but the most highly prized fabric at home and abroad was silk.

The feeding of silkworms (which devoured vast quantities of mulberry leaves), the cleaning of their trays, the unraveling of the cocoons, the reeling and spinning of the silk filaments — all this was women’s work, as was the weaving of plain cloth on simple home looms.

Professional weavers, mostly men working in government or private workshops, operated complex looms to weave the fancy damasks, brocades, and gauzes favored by the elite.

 

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