A lady in silk is a lady in love. A lady sleeping in silk AND on silk is one who not oly commands sense but also sensibility. For non Austen fan, here's the sweet and simple way of stating a fact, if you want to be sensous, know your silk.
As many who had been to the southern part of China will attest, silk is best and cheapest here in the cities of Suzhou and Hangzhou and in some degree Shanghai. Here are the capitals of silk making industry. True, some may argue that Como (25 miles north of Milan) in Italy is the world capital of silk. Every country or city will claim they are the world capital as soon as they have a silk indsutry. But who has the famous Silk Road on their backyards? The Chinese, is it not?
The history of silk begins in 27th century BC! (According to Wikipedia, that is.) That's a long long time ago and China had the monopoly in silk for at least a thousand years. Well, a lot of things would have been mastered in that period of time and master did the Chinese with regards to silk. Silk is not new, it's been found in dynasties of emperors' robes and empresses' gown. So, as far as I'm concerned, the title for best silk ever produced belongs to China.
Silk eventually spread to Japan, Europe and now even countries like Thailand and India. The Japanese has a knack for making the best of everything (be it that they were copycats to begin with) and throughout history, Japanese had some fine silk apparels in their museums as well. You simply need to see videos of their kimonos and you'd completely agree with me. As for the Thais, Jim Thompson has commercialised the silk making industry to a fine art affordable to the common people.
On my recent trips to Suzhou, I bought some light and affordable silk night gowns and vests. They are great not only for the summer but also the winter. And these light materials make it a great gift item from China. Souvenirs are also available for silk pouches or sandals. The very item you must get for yourself if you ever go to a silk making factory or sales outlet is the duvet cover and/or bedsheets. Imagine, silk bed sheets! They are so smooth and silky you can glide on your bed ;-) I found this the most useful, memorable and beautiful gift I've ever gotten for myself in China. Simply lovely! If you ever get a chance to visit (and most who go to China on a tour will definitely end up visiting these factories), make sure you get one of these! An NZ friend of mine whom I took to these factories told me he regretted not getting more than one of these duvet covers. They are splendid!
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 Egyptianmummy 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...