Chinese wedding costume
Silk fabric was first developed in ancient China, possibly as early as 6000 BC and definitely by 3000 BC. Legend gives credit for developing silk to a Chinese empress,Lei Zu (Hsi-Ling-Shih, Lei-Tzu). Silks were originally reserved for the Kings of China for their own use and gifts to others, but spread gradually through Chinese cultureand trade both geographically and socially, and then to many regions of Asia. Silk rapidly became a popular luxury fabric in the many areas accessible to Chinese merchants because of its texture and luster. Silk was in great demand, and became a staple of pre-industrial international trade. In July 2007, archeologists discovered intricately woven and dyed silk textiles in a tomb in Jiangxi province, are dated to the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, roughly 2,500 years ago. Although historians have suspected a long history of a formative textile industry in ancient China, this find of silk textiles employing "complicated techniques" of weaving and dyeing provides direct and concrete evidence for silks dating before the Mawangdui-discovery and other silks dating to the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD).
The first evidence of the silk trade is the finding of silk in the hair of an Egyptian mummy of the 21st dynasty, c.1070 BC. Ultimately the silk trade reached as far as the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa. This trade was so extensive that the major set of trade routes between Europe and Asia has become known as the Silk Road.The Emperors of China strove to keep knowledge of sericulture secret to maintain the Chinese monopoly. Nonetheless sericulture reached Korea around 200 BC, about the first half of the 1st century AD had reached ancient Khotan, and by AD 300 the practice had been established in India.