Ancient Occidentals and Silks

Recently I saw an old Hollywood movie, Cleopatra (This movie’s name was translated as “Glamorous Queen of Egypt” in China). I found that some Occidentals were dressed in the clothing of Oriental style. I recalled the remote history. In the middle times (140 BC-87 BC) of the Western Han Dynasty, this empire opened the Silk Road by military forces. Since then, large quantities of silks were sold to Occidentals including finished products of the clothing of the Han nation, it was nothing surprising that Occidentals were dressed in the clothing of Oriental style at that time.

At that time, the Han Empire subdued many countries around. In the east, Northern Korea was annexed and was divided into four regions. In the south, Vietnam was ruled as Jiaozhi Jun (“Jun” was a name of a middle region). In the north, Hun lost large land and was weakened seriously. In the west, the army of Han Empire controlled the Middle Asia. These actions ensured the Silk Road. And since then, traders had dealings safely in Han Empire, Persian Kingdom and Roman Republic. In order to keep large benefits of silk trade, the Han Empire didn't permit silkworms to be exported, and Persian almost monopolized silk markets of West Asia, so Roman had to purchase silks with high prices. But in the times of Justinian of Eastern Roman Empire, several monks of India smuggled silkworm eggs out of the Liang Dynasty of Central Nation and gave them to Justinian. These monks learned sericulture when they were in Central Nation. So they taught Eastern Roman to master sericulture. Since then, Westerners were able to produce silks.

In ancient China, originally sericulture was prosperous in Central Plains. But because of wars, many people migrated to the south. Gradually the sericulture of the south became more prosperous than the north’s. Nowadays the silks of two provinces Zhejiang and Jiangsu are of high quality and exquisite beauty.

Oriental Style
Since February 6th, 2006
Copyright © Yike Jiang