There are many species of wild silkworm distributed in various places across the globe. Whilst there are historical records of the use of wild silkworms for the collection of silk in Ancient Greece and the Indian Subcontinent, the unique nature of Chinese silk is that it was derived from domesticated silk worms. It is from these origins in sericulture that the Silk Roads gets its name.
People all over the world have loved silk and this demand formed the basis of the ancient trade routes of the Silk Roads. From around the 5th century CE, silk appeared on the northern grassland passages and the southwestern Sino-Indian passage. After the diplomat and envoy, Zhang Qian of the Han dynasty, was sent to the western territories, silk became the main commodity of the Silk Roads. In addition to facilitating the trade of silk, the Silk Roads drove the spread of silk production technology, in particular silkworm sericulture technology, around the world.
‘A World of Silks – Collection of Global Silk Art’ contains the fine art of the 2016 “Splendid World: International Silk Art Exhibition”. Its content is divided into Asian, European, African, American, and other regions, and classified according to weaving, printing and dyeing and embroidery. By tracing the development of silk textiles and the history of the cultural interactions of silkworm silk reeling, it aids understanding of the common cultural heritage of the Silk Roads.