Silk Carpets

Silk Carpets
August 24, 2016 Caroline Seaworth

‘The silk carpet is in a class of its own in terms of the specialization involved in its production. For a start an enormous amount of silk is required, it must be dyed by highly skilled professionals, the looms have to be built to a standard appropriate to the fineness of the carpet to be woven, and so on.’

chinese silk rug
brown and beige silk rug

Luxury, wealth, elegance… these are some common associations that we ascribe to silk. It can be surprising, but we don’t know exactly where the silk carpets came from on account of the fact that this material is rather fragile and thus destructible. However, the oldest extant silk carpets are known to be from the 16th century, the same time when the sea trade between Asia and Europe was boosted due to the Silk Road.

Why silk rugs are recognized as those more splendid and deluxe than any other types of carpets? There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, the knot count, which generally determines the rug’s quality, is greater with silk threads than with wool ones. As a consequence, more details can be depicted. Secondly, silk can be used to enrich wool carpet with various highlights giving it a touch of glaze. What is of grave concern though, are simply silk’s associations that caused that this material became the symbol of richness and fineness.

A natural protein fiber – silk – is obtained from cocoons of silkworms. The whole process of formation of silk is highly gripping. Several insects can produce silk, however, for textile manufacture silk of moth caterpillars is normally used. In a nutshell, the process starts with laying tiny eggs by a female moth; the minuscule black caterpillar hatches from the egg; it eats mulberry leaves and grows bigger; it goes through 4 molts; then the caterpillar spins a cocoon of silk threads around itself and it alters into a pupa inside the cocoon. The next step is just to unwind the silk threads from the cocoons to weave them into a silk cloth.

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silk worm

Today, there is an abundance of silk clothes and other silk products available. They are now being mass produced. No wonder we tend to forget about the fact that in the past silk carpets used to be far more expensive and complicated in production. Regardless of the period of time, silk rugs are invariably sought after due to their gentleness and luxury.