The Song Dynasty in China | Asia for Educators

China in 1000 CE

The Most Advanced Society in the World

The Song Economic Revolution


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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