It is often used for clothing such as shirts, ties, blouses, formal dresses, high-fashion clothes, lining, lingerie, pajamas, robes, dress suits, sun dresses, and traditional Asian clothing. Silk is also excellent for insect-proof clothing, protecting the wearer from mosquitoes and horseflies. Silk resists most mineral acids, except for sulfuric acid, which dissolves it. These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word ‘silky.’ Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors.
- Fibroin is made up of the amino acids Gly-Ser-Gly-Ala-Gly-Ala and forms beta pleated sheets.
- In the Yuan dynasty, panels of kesi were exported to Europe, where they were incorporated into cathedral vestments.
- Compared to cotton, for example, there is far less impact on the land, water and air, and it doesn’t involve the use of pesticides.
- Symbols used on the dragon robes also included the eight Buddhist symbols, symbols of the Daoist Eight Immortals (Baxian), eight precious things, and other auspicious devices.
There is a surviving calendar for silk production in an Eastern Han (25–220 AD) document. The two other known works on silk from the Han period are lost. The first evidence of the long distance silk trade is the finding of silk in the hair of an Egyptian mummy of the 21st dynasty, c.1070 BC. The silk trade reached as far as the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa. This trade was so extensive that the major set of trade routes between Europe and Asia came to be known as the Silk Road. “This study establishes that we can use these bacteria to convert plastic to spider silk. Our future work will investigate whether tweaking the bacteria or other aspects of the process will allow us to scale up production,” Koffas said.
Contemporary accounts state that monks working for the emperor Justinian I smuggled silkworm eggs to Constantinople from China inside hollow canes. All top-quality looms and weavers were located inside the Great Palace complex in Constantinople, and the cloth produced was used in imperial robes or in diplomacy, as gifts to foreign dignitaries. The history of industrial silk in the United States is largely tied to several smaller urban centers in the Northeast region. This economy particularly gained traction in the vicinity of Northampton, Massachusetts and its neighboring Williamsburg, where a number of small firms and cooperatives emerged. Among the most prominent of these was the cooperative utopian Northampton Association for Education and Industry, of which Sojourner Truth was a member. Following the destructive Mill River Flood of 1874, one manufacturer, William Skinner, relocated his mill from Williamsburg to the then-new city of Holyoke.
She’s obsessed with all things hair care and results-driven skincare, that is kind to the environment and your wallet. She has a weakness for limited edition eyeshadows and is always testing out the newest and greatest deep conditioners. Hollie has a passion for hair and is studying Trichology, working towards becoming a Member of the Association of Registered Trichologists. This is because glycine has no side chain and is therefore unencumbered by steric strain. The addition of alanine and serine makes the fibres strong and resistant to breaking.
More from Merriam-Webster on silky
The caifu (“coloured dress”), or “dragon robe,” was a semiformal court dress in which the dominant element was the imperial five-clawed dragon (long) or the four-clawed dragon (mang). In spite of repeated sumptuary laws issued during the Ming and Qing, the five-clawed dragon was seldom reserved for objects of exclusively imperial use. Symbols used on the dragon robes also included the eight Buddhist symbols, symbols of the Daoist Eight Immortals (Baxian), eight precious things, and other auspicious devices. “Mandarin squares” had been attached front and back to Ming official robes as symbols of civil and military rank and were adapted by the Manchus to their own distinctive dress. Early Han textiles recovered from Mawangdui show the further development of the weaving traditions already present at Mashan in the late Zhou, including brocade and embroidery, gauze, plain weaves, and damasks. Later finds elsewhere, however, are limited chiefly to damasks, very finely woven in several colours with patterns that generally repeat about every 5 cm (2 inches).
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the bacteria used in the study, can naturally consume polyethylene as a food source. The RPI team tackled the challenge of engineering this bacteria to convert the carbon atoms of polyethylene into a genetically encoded silk protein. Surprisingly, they found that their newly developed bacteria could make the silk protein at a yield rivaling some bacteria strains that are more conventionally used in biomanufacturing. Eventually a strong demand for the local production of raw silk arose in the Mediterranean area. Justinian I, Byzantine emperor from 527 to 565, persuaded two Persian monks who had lived in China to return there and smuggle silkworms to Constantinople (now Istanbul) in the hollows of their bamboo canes (c. 550 ce).
They’re fed an exclusive diet of mulberry leaves, which is why the luxurious fabric is known as mulberry silk. Silk weaving became a major industry and one of China’s chief exports in the Han dynasty. The caravan route across Central Asia, known as the Silk Road, took Chinese silk to Syria and on to Rome. In the 4th century bce the Greek philosopher Aristotle mentioned that sericulture was practiced on the island of Kos, but the art was evidently lost and reintroduced into Byzantium from China in the 6th century ce. Chinese textiles of Han date have been found in Egypt, in graves in northern Mongolia (Noin-ula), and at Loulan in Chinese Turkistan. Silk was used by Han rulers as diplomatic gifts, as well as to buy off the threatening nomads and to weaken them by giving them a taste of luxury.
Origins in China
Silk culture flourished in Europe for many centuries, especially in the Italian city-states and (from 1480) in France. Louis Pasteur, who was asked to study the disease in 1865, discovered the cause and developed a means of control. Meanwhile Japan was modernizing its methods of sericulture, and soon it was supplying a large portion of the world’s raw silk. During and after World War II the substitution of such man-made fibres as nylon in making hosiery and other garments greatly reduced the silk industry. Still, silk has remained an important luxury material and remains an important product of China, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.
“What’s really exciting about this process is that unlike the way plastics are produced today, our process is low-energy and doesn’t require the use of toxic chemicals,” Zha said. “The best chemists in the world could not convert polyethylene into spider silk, but these bacteria can. We’re really harnessing what nature has developed to do manufacturing for us.” Ming and Qing textiles fully display the Chinese love of pageantry, colour, and fine craftsmanship. Prominent among woven textile patterns are flowers and dragons against a background of geometric motifs that date to the late Zhou (1046–256 bce) and Han. The chaofu was a very elaborate court ceremonial dress; the emperor’s robe was adorned with the auspicious 12 symbols described in ancient ritual texts, while princes and high officials were allowed nine symbols or fewer according to rank.
Not confined to clothing, silk was also used for a number of other applications, including writing, and the colour of silk worn was an important guide of social class during the Tang dynasty. Persia became a centre of silk trade between East and West under the Parthians (247 bce–224 ce). Silk dyeing and weaving developed as crafts silkt in Syria, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The workers there used some raw silk from East Asia, but they derived most of their yarn by unraveling silk fabrics from the East. The main Song dynasty achievement in silk production was the perfecting of kesi, an extremely fine silk tapestry woven on a small loom with a needle as a shuttle.
Silk, animal fibre produced by certain insects and arachnids as building material for cocoons and webs, some of which can be used to make fine fabrics. In commercial use, silk is almost entirely limited to filaments from the cocoons of domesticated silkworms (caterpillars of several moth species belonging to the genus Bombyx). According to Chinese history, a Chinese empress watched a silkworm spinning its cocoon while on her morning walk through the royal gardens. She dreamt of clothing herself entirely with fabric made only from these fine, shimmering threads. Hsi-Ling-Shi is credited with both introducing sericulture and inventing the loom upon which silk is woven.
Just like humans need to cut and chew our food into smaller pieces before our bodies can use it, the bacteria have difficulty eating the long molecule chains, or polymers, that comprise polyethylene. All those attributes make it a great material for a future where renewable resources and avoidance of persistent plastic pollution are the norm, Zha said. Ashwagandha is an ancient Ayurvedic herb that has been used for centuries to support health and longevity. Unwashed silk chiffon may shrink up to 8% due to a relaxation of the fiber macrostructure, so silk should either be washed prior to garment construction, or dry cleaned. Occasionally, this shrinkage can be reversed by a gentle steaming with a press cloth. There is almost no gradual shrinkage nor shrinkage due to molecular-level deformation.
It holds a whole host of hair and skin benefits due to its smoothness and moisture-wicking properties. Modern attire has raised a number of issues, including, for instance, the permissibility of wearing silk neckties, which are masculine articles of clothing. The production of silk originated in China in the Neolithic period, although it would eventually reach other places of the world (Yangshao culture, 4th millennium https://cryptolisting.org/ BC). Silk production remained confined to China until the Silk Road opened at some point during the latter part of the 1st millennium BC, though China maintained its virtual monopoly over silk production for another thousand years. “Spider silk is nature’s Kevlar,” said Helen Zha, Ph.D., an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering and one of the RPI researchers leading the project.
The technique appears to have been invented by the Sogdians in Central Asia, improved by the Uighurs, and adapted by the Chinese in the 11th century. The term kesi (literally “cut silk”) derives from vertical gaps between areas of colours, caused by the weft threads not running right across the width; it has also been suggested that the word is a corruption of the Persian qazz or Arabic khazz, referring to silk and silk products. Kesi was used for robes, silk panels, and scroll covers and for translating painting into tapestry. In the Yuan dynasty, panels of kesi were exported to Europe, where they were incorporated into cathedral vestments. It is the highest quality silk available comes from silkworms produced from the Bombyx mori moth.