The Simple Origins Of The Silk Road.
Silk is a textile of ancient Chinese origin, woven from the protein fibre produced by the silkworm to make its cocoon, and was developed, according to Chinese tradition, sometime around the year 2,700 BC. Regarded as an extremely high-value product, it was reserved for the exclusive usage of the Chinese imperial court for the making of clothes, drapes, banners, and other items of prestige. Its production was kept a fiercely guarded secret within China for some 3,000 years, with imperial decrees sentencing to death anyone who revealed to a foreigner the process of its production. The Chinese monopoly on silk production, however, did not mean that the product was restricted to the Chinese Empire – on the contrary, silk was used as a diplomatic gift, and was also traded extensively, first of all with China’s immediate neighbours, and subsequently further afield, becoming one of China’s chief exports under the Han dynasty (206 BC –220 AD). Chinese cloths from this period have been found in Egypt, in northern Mongolia, and elsewhere. At some point during the 1st century BC, silk was introduced to the Roman Empire, where it was considered an exotic luxury and became extremely popular, with imperial edicts being issued to control prices. Its popularity continued throughout the Middle Ages, with detailed Byzantine regulations for the manufacture of silk clothes, illustrating its importance as a quintessentially royal fabric and an important source of revenue for the crown. This luxury item was thus one of the early impetuses in the development of trading routes from Europe to the Far East. Knowledge about silk production was very valuable and, despite the efforts of the Chinese emperor to keep it a closely guarded secret, it did eventually spread beyond China, first to India and Japan, then to the Persian Empire and finally to the west in the 6thcentury AD. Credit: UNESCO.
Read Articles Here: