Feb 21, 2019
Neolithic Age (ca. 10,000 to 4,000 years ago)
Invention of sericulture and silk reeling techniques.
Appearance of backstrap looms.
Appearance of tabby weaves.
Xia, Shang and Western Zhou Dynasties (21st Century BC-771 BC)
Cultivation of mulberry trees.
Appearance of written characters for mulberry, silkworm and silks.
Appearance of patterned tabby weave and crossed-warp weave.
Appearance of chain-stitch embroidery, use of vermilion for dye.
Simple geometric patterns popular on fabrics.
Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods (770-221 BC)
The Central Plains area becomes silk production center.
Use of patterning looms for repeated patterns on weaves.
Use of warp-faced silk as decorative fabric.
Extensive use of plant dyes such as madder, indigo and gardenia.
Dragon and phoenix patterns popular.
Spread of Chinese silks to
Second century BC, beginning of sericulture in
Qin and Han Dynasties (221 BC-220 AD)
Widespread use of treadled tilted looms.
Peak time for warp-faced patterned silk fabrics.
Cloud and animal patterns become the mainstream silk motifs.
Strong impact of silk knowhow on paper making.
Opening of the overland
Wei, Jin and Southern and Northern Dynasties (220-589)
Expansion of silk producing areas to northwest and southwest regions.
The multiple-shaft-and-treadle loom, an advance by Ma Jun of Wei.
Invention of freezing silkworm eggs technique to control their incubation.
Extensive appearance of exotic animal patterns and pearl roundels on silk fabrics.
Third-fourth centuries, start of production of tussore silk in
Fourth century, beginning of sericulture in
Fourth-fifth centuries, spread of sericulture to
Sui, Tang and the Five Dynasties Period (581-960)
Kaiyuan reign (713-741), peak production period of ancient Chinese silk.
Great expansion of silk varieties; twill and weft-faced fabric techniques in vogue.
Boom times for gold-threaded, gold-embroidered and gold-printed fabrics.
The beginning of “continuous warp, interrupted weft” in silk fabric; the emergence of kesi.
Appearance of Ikat patterned silks; knot-resist dyeing, clamp-resist dyeing, wax-resist dyeing widely used.
Treasure-flower medallion and Duke of Lingyang patterns in vogue.
Sixth century, silkworm eggs taken to Roman Empire, sericulture and silk industry emerge in
Eighth century, Chinese weavers spread silk weaving techniques in
Song, Liao, Jin and Yuan Dynasties (960-1368)
Southward shift of silk-production center to Yangtze Delta region.
Invention of mulberry tree grafting techniques; a succession of books on sericulture technology.
Extensive use of string-heddle patterning looms with figure tower.
Mongolian rulers greatly promote Nasij fabrics.
Appearance of satin weave structure and satin weaves.
Sketched flower and bird motifs stylish in the north, spring-water and autumn-hill motifs popular in the south.
10th century, sericulture begins in
12th-13th centuries, arrival in Europe of Chinese patterning looms and treadle looms;
Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
Emergence in the Yangtze Delta region of towns and cities specializing in silk making and trading.
The first attempts at silkworm hybridization recorded in Song Yingxing’s Exploitation of the Works of Nature.
Appearance of velvet fabrics.
Maturing of brocade techniques, brocaded fabrics widespread.
Official ranks indicated on gowns by differentiated rank patches showing different bird and beast motifs.
Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)
Weaving services in
The four distinct styles of famous embroidery take shape.
Auspicious ruyi becomes a major silk motif.
First imports into
1687, a patterning device, invented in
15th century, swan’s-down velvet popular in
1784, invention, in
1785, invention, in
1805, steam silk reeling machine adopted in
1825, invention, in
About the Column
Suzhou-Silk City is a book compiled by the Information Office of Suzhou Municipal People's Government and published by Foreign Languages Press Co. Ltd. Suzhou, though associated with classical gardens, is even more the city of silk. The peaks and troughs experienced in Suzhou’s silk making and embroidery worlds are an important aspect of the enduring brilliance of China’s silk art.