THE HISTORY OF SILK
Chinese legend attributes the first creation of the wife of the mythical Yellow Emperor who is thought to have lives 5000 years ages. Recent archeological discoveries, however, indicate that sericulture was known in China some 6000 to 7000 years ago. For thousands of years silk was reserved for the use of the Emperor, it was the most closely guarded secret in all of history.
By the time of the Han Dynast silk had become a vital part of the Chinese economy. People paid their taxes in silk, silk was used as bow strings, for fishing lies, on musical instruments and, of course, for garments. The secret could no longer be kept. The Greeks and Romans regarded silk as one of the most priceless products In 200 BC Chinese emigrants introduced sericulture to Korea and from there it, no doubt, spread to other Asian countries.
Stories tell of two Nestorian monks who, in about 550 AD, smuggled silkworm eggs in their hollow bamboo staves to Byzantium. Travelling along the Silk Road silk finally came to be produced in Italy at the time of the Second Crusade in the thirteenth century.
In 1688 the French Ambassador writes that the King often gave ‘ silk pagnes of an extraordinary beauty and gaudiness ‘ to the lady of his court. We do not know, however, whether they were locally produced or imported.