The Classics: The Beauty and Luxuriousness of Silk, Origins and Adding Sensuality to Daily Living

The Classics: Silk

For centuries, silk has been an essential luxury fabric. From Chinese royalty, now everywhere around the world woven into our lives, from bedding, clothing and more.

The Legend of Silk: Roots in Chinese History

According to Chinese legend, sericulture and silk cloth weaving were invented by Lady Hsi-Ling-Shih, the wife of the mythical Yellow Emperor who ruled China around 3,000 BC. Hsi-Ling-Shi is credited with introducing sericulture as well as inventing the loom used to weave silk. She is sometimes referred to as The Goddess of Silk in Chinese texts.

Intended only for the Select Few

Silk was once reserved for the Emperor of China and those close to him, such as important family members and high-ranking dignitaries. According to some very old and possibly semi-legendary sources, the Emperor always wore white silk inside his imperial palace and yellow silk outside. The Emperor’s main wife and the heir to the imperial throne are also described as wearing yellow silk when they appear outside the palace.

Woman’s Ceremonial Robe (The Bat Medallion Robe) first half of the18th century. China. (Metropolitan Museum)

Silk weaving became an important industry and one of China’s most important exports during the Han Dynasty. During the Yuan Dynasty, Kesi plates, an extremely fine silk rug woven with a needle as shuttle, were exported to Europe where they were incorporated into the robes of the cathedrals. Caravans on the route known as the Silk Road through Central Asia brought Chinese silk to Syria and Rome.

The city is world famous for its fine production of silk, velvet, damask and brocade. Damask weaving exists in 4th and 3rd century BC Shang Dynasty tombs in Mashan Jiangle, Hubei Province, excavated in 1982 and providing excellent examples of brocade, gauze, embroidery and figurines, some of the first complete garments.

The interaction between the various media of Han Dynasty art explains their stylistic unity. The most important achievement of the Song Dynasty in silk production was the perfection of the Kesi, a fine silk rug woven on a small loom with needle and shuttle.

What is Silk?

Silk is a natural protein fiber that forms and is woven into textiles. Silk is made up of natural proteins and fibres and consists of fibroin, a protein that secretes certain insects larvae to form cocoons. Other insects also produce silky substances, but in most parts of the world silk is extracted from Bombyx mori, the larvae of worms that live on mulberry trees.

A silkworm species called Pacypasa atus produces coconut silk, native to certain parts of Greece, Turkey and Italy. It feeds on pine, juniper and oak and silk was used in ancient Rome, but its fabric production is today limited and it is used to support other kinds of silk fibers. Certain shellfish species native to the Mediterranean produce small amounts of silky fibres.

silk cocoons

The environmental impact of silk production is large compared to other natural fibres. To produce 1 kg of silk, 104 kg of mulberry leaves must be eaten by 3,000 silkworms to be eaten. Certain types of spider silk are tear-resistant, but spiders cannot reproduce with silkworms.

Mahatma Gandhi was critical of silk production based on the Ahimsa philosophy, which led to the promotion of cotton as ahimsa silk, a type of wild silk made from the cocoons of wild and semi-wild silk moths. Kesi is a fine silk rug woven on a small loom with needle and shuttle, used in robes, silk panels, scrolls and translated into paintings and tapestries.

Caring for Silk

With proper care, silk can be easy to live with. Ideally silk should be hand washed, but silk can be machine washed if washed on a low-temperature and gentle cycle; if your machine has a time-reduced setting, use it. Be sure to wash similar colors together. Always use a gentle detergent. To protect it in the wash, using a mesh bag will protect your silk from snagging in the washing machine. Never use fabric conditioner or softener! Silk does not require it and it leaves a coating on your laundry that, with repeated use, renders it impermeable to water and detergent. As for drying time, silk dries extremely quickly. However, be sure to keep away from direct sunlight and hang to dry in a shaded area.

Add Silk to Daily Luxurious Living

Silky Dreams: Slumber on Silk Bedding

Add natural elegance to your beauty routine with our range of silk pillowcases and other products. We all want sweet dreams and restful nights, and to wake surrounded by the softest sensations. If you are looking for the perfect luxuriousness for your bedding, a natural, super soft 100% genuine silk pillowcase is the perfect addition to any bed. Moreover, slipping under the sheets for a smooth, smooth evening is a real treat, as it gives your room a real boudoir feel and your bed is decorated in all its glory.

Silk pillowcases reduce friction on the cuticles that are exposed to during sleep, minimizing hair damage and frizz. As an added bonus, silk pillows stay cool all night and are hypoallergenic. While your normal cotton pillowcase can absorb moisturizer or other skin care products you apply before bed, a silk pillowcase does not.

Gingerlily silk sheets
Gingerlily Silk Sheets, colour Charcoal

Silk pillowcases encourage the skin to maintain its natural moisture, as silk is a non-porous fabric. The Beauty Box Mulberry Silk Pillowcase by Gingerlilys is recommended by leading dermatologists as an anti-aging tool for the skin and a secret weapon for healthy hair. The natural proteins in Mulberry Silk pillowcase help to retain the moisture of the skin and hair and to reduce the damage caused by cotton pillowcases. Authentic mulberry silk regulates the temperature and is therefore ideal for sleeping on warm or cool nights. 

Gingerlily silk sleep mask

Silk Sleep Mask

Discover the luxurious silk experience and treat yourself to an alternative way of self-care every day. The best sleep mask for your needs can make a mighty difference, whether you want to ward off night-time distractions, need total and complete darkness to fall asleep or will travel with red eyes on your next flight.

Silk Dresses

Imagine draping yourself in stunning silk designs, from traditional line dresses to bold and colorful mini dresses to conservative looks with modest necklines. Silk taffeta and feathers are soft and luxuriously draped pieces that whisper effortlessly classical style. 

Silk Pajamas

Once the weather cools down after summer, it’s an excellent time to wear silk pyjamas. Layered with cashmere and other woolen fabrics adds a layer of warmth over the silky fabric that glides across your skin. 

Dolce & Gabbana Draped Silk Gown



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