The silk industry of Nanjing was developed during the Eastern Wu Period of the third century (220-280 CE).
Follow�ing the Mongolian rule, gold was introduced into the traditional world of Chinese weaving as the nomads preferred gold to any other valuable.
By adding pure gold, silver, and rare bird feathers to long silk threads, the textiles were made more valuable, for the royalty cared for nothing more than quality, and at any cost.
The YUNJIN wooden loom is called “dahualou”, which means “the big patterned building”. It is 5.6 meters (approx. 18.3ft) long, 4 meters (approx. 13.1ft) high, and 1.4 meters (approx. 4.6ft) wide and requires two skillful crafts workers to work together. 14,000 counts of thread are needed to weave a 78cm (approx. 2.6ft) wide piece of fabric. It requires advanced design, including the careful calculations of the wefts and the weaves, along with the different colors, that are transformed into a beautiful design through a very ancient language - the words of knots.
Each knot controls a group of silk threads. The weaver who sits at the top of the machine was in charge of lifting the correct knots while the one who sat in the lower position was in charge of making the design. The vertical thread has to be cut off each time, and a new one picked up; only the horizontal ones remained through the entire piece of textile. By cutting off the vertical threads, complicated patterns could be created in multi-colors. Two skillful crafts workers only produced 4 to 5 cm of this kind of fabric per day, so that one piece of textile needed for a royal robe would take two years to complete. It takes around 13 years of training to become an expert weaver.
Each inch of the textile was worth its weight in gold. Such textiles could only be used for the royal family’s official uniforms and sometimes for their everyday wear, for bed covers and accessories in the palace, for high officials’ uniforms, and as grant by the emperors. Nanjing was not the only place that produced brocade, but only Nanjing produced the cloud brocade, which gained its name due to its extremely beautiful patterns, unique designs, and colors that resembled the colorful clouds of heaven.
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