Silk Trade on the Silk Road, Silk Properties, History of Silk Trade (2022)

Silk is a specialty of China. The ancient Chinese laboring people invented and mass-produced silk products, which opened the first large-scale commercial exchange in the history of the world. From the western Han dynasty, China's silk had been shipped abroad in large quantities to become a world-famous product. The road from China to the west was called the "silk road" by Europeans at that time, and China was also called "silk country".

What is Silk?

Silk Trade on the Silk Road, Silk Properties, History of Silk Trade (1)

Silk is actually a natural protein fiber, a few types of which may be woven into textiles. The protein fiber of silk mainly consists of fibroin and is made by certain insect larvae to make cocoons. It is generally produced by a few other insects, like silk worms, but only the silk of moth caterpillars continues to be utilized for textile manufacturing.

(Video) The Silk Road: Connecting the ancient world through trade - Shannon Harris Castelo

Silk production also appears in bees, wasps, and ants as well as silverfish, mayflies, thrips, leafhoppers, beetles, lacewings, fleas, flies, and midges. Other species of arthropod can also produce silk, the most notably various arachnids is that of spiders.

Silk Properties and Characteristics

Silk Trade on the Silk Road, Silk Properties, History of Silk Trade (2)


1. Wearing a cloth made from silk is a comfort wearing experience.

The real silk is made from protein fiber, which has good biocompatibility with human body, and its surface is very smooth. The friction and stimulation coefficient of the human body is the lowest among all kinds of fiber.

(Video) Invention Of Silk | The Dr. Binocs Show | Best Learning Video for Kids | Preschool Learning

2. Silk has a good hygroscopicity and moisture releasability.
In normal temperature, it can help the skin retain moisture, not to make the skin too dry. When wear in summer, it can also quickly excrete the sweat and heat of human body and make a person feel cool and incomparable.

3. Silk has functions of sound absorption, dust absorption and flame retarding.
Silk fabric has high porosity, thus has a good sound absorption and inspiratory, so in addition to making clothing, it can also be used for interior decoration to because it can adjust the indoor temperature and humidity, and can absorb harmful gas, dust and microorganism. Besides, the thermal denaturation of pure silk fiber is low. Using silk fiber as the raw material of indoor adornment can achieve a flame retarding function.

4. Silk can anti ultraviolet rays.

The tryptophan and tyrosine in silk protein can absorb uv, so silk has a better anti-ultraviolet function.

5. Silk can help in health care.

(Video) History, Manufacturing, and Properties of Silk (And the Silkworm)

Silk fiber contains 18 kinds of amino acids necessary for human body, which is similar to the amino acid contained in human skin, so it is also known as the "second skin" of human. Its health function is irreplaceable.


Silk is easy to wrinkle and not strong enough to wear. Its solid color performance is poor and the color may fade fast. It can't keep you warm, either.

Brief History of Silk Trade

Silk Trade on the Silk Road, Silk Properties, History of Silk Trade (3)

Silk fabric was initially developed in ancient China. The earliest example of silk has been found in tombs at the neolithic site Jiahu in Henan tracing back to 8,500 years ago. Silks had been initially used by the Kings of China with regard to their personal use or presents to others, and slowly spread through Chinese culture and trade both geographically and also socially, and then to several areas of Asia.

(Video) The Story of the Silk Route - Traders, Kings and Pilgrims | Class 6 History

Silk quickly grew to become a favorite luxury fabric in several regions available to Chinese merchants due to its texture and luster. It had been in remarkable need, and become a staple of pre-industrial worldwide trade.

The first evidence of the silk trade may be the discovering of silk in the hair of an Egyptian mummy of the 21st dynasty. The silk trade hit as far as the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa. This trade appeared to be extremely considerable that the main set of trade routes between Europe and Asia came to be generally known as the Silk Road; and silk was definitely the main goods that traded on the ancient Silk Road.

During ancient times, silk from China was the most lucrative and sought-after luxury item exchanged throughout the Eurasian continent, and several civilizations, like the ancient Persians, benefited economically from trade.

(Video) Silk Road Trade Goods

The Silk Road towards the west had been exposed by the Chinese during the Han Dynasty in 119 BC. The primary route left from Xian, going either to the north or south of the Taklamakan desert. The caravans that used this approach to trade silk along with other merchants tended to be typically pretty large, which included from 100 to 500 people along with camels and yaks.


What was traded on the Silk Road and why was the Silk Road important? ›

Silk Road, also called Silk Route, ancient trade route, linking China with the West, that carried goods and ideas between the two great civilizations of Rome and China. Silk went westward, and wools, gold, and silver went east. China also received Nestorian Christianity and Buddhism (from India) via the Silk Road.

Why was the Silk Road called the Silk Road? ›

Silk Road Economic Belt

Even though the name “Silk Road” derives from the popularity of Chinese silk among tradesmen in the Roman Empire and elsewhere in Europe, the material was not the only important export from the East to the West.

What is the history of silk? ›

The production of silk originates in China in the Neolithic (Yangshao culture, 4th millennium BC). Silk remained confined to China until the Silk Road opened at some point during the later half of the first millennium BC. China maintained its virtual monopoly over silk production for another thousand years.

What is it called now Silk Road? ›

The term "Jade Road" would have been more appropriate than "Silk Road" had it not been for the far larger and geographically wider nature of the silk trade; the term is in current use in China.

Why is silk important? ›

Silk is a natural fiber known for its luster, shine, strength, and durability, and it has a long trading history across the world. Silk is the epitome of luxury due to its high cost to produce, soft feel, and elegant appearance, and it is thus a popular textile in high-end and couture fashion design.

Who made Silk Road? ›

Ross Ulbricht is infamous for creating and running the Silk Road market, and while he claims that his intentions for starting the site were altruistic, a federal jury found him guilty on seven serious charges, including conspiracy to traffic narcotics, and he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. Mr.


1. Trade, Heritage & Landscape along the Silk Roads
2. Travelling the Silk Road: From London to Beijing
(Aga Khan Foundation)
3. The New Silk Road | Laos & China | Laos New Investment | Documentary | China's Economy | English
4. Chinese Foreign Policy toward Central Asia and the Silk Roads
(Central Asia Program)
5. The Legend of Silk in Ancient China - What Is Silk?
(The Ancient Library)
6. Case 76: Silk Road (Part 1)
(Casefile Presents)

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Prof. Nancy Dach

Last Updated: 06/20/2022

Views: 5934

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (57 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Prof. Nancy Dach

Birthday: 1993-08-23

Address: 569 Waelchi Ports, South Blainebury, LA 11589

Phone: +9958996486049

Job: Sales Manager

Hobby: Web surfing, Scuba diving, Mountaineering, Writing, Sailing, Dance, Blacksmithing

Introduction: My name is Prof. Nancy Dach, I am a lively, joyous, courageous, lovely, tender, charming, open person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.