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Syrian brocade the Royal Fabric

Elegance by the yard: The famous Syrian silk, known as brocade is perhaps one of the most opulent and luxurious products of the Orient. The extraordinary thickness of this fabric, intense colors of natural dyes, intricate, centuries old patterns and fantastic quality of workmanship, combine to create the most luxurious fabric that trees ever made. A certain top French designer salon sells it around US $ 300 per yard.

Of the Fabric: Only two small factories in Damascus still manufacture brocade using traditional ways. The process is so demanding and time consuming that a single person makes only one meter a day, using the very finest silk and golden threads. The knots are tied very tight, like in the best oriental carpets. Consequently, availability of the fabric is inevitably limited, and that, combined with its exceptional quality and high market demand, push the price up. Is a there a better place than Damascus to buy Brocade?

An oversea visitor was in Damascus one spring afternon. She was in one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. She headed for a shop famed for its brocade. The courteous shopkeeper brought out tall bolts of shimmering fabrics.

An ivory satin woven with golden lovebirds caught her eyes. The owner explained that it was a special design, a gift of the Syrian Government to Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her marriage in November 1947.The queen wore it on her best day….the day of her wedding. There were only a few meters of the material left of the truly royal cloth. It went into tourist’s suitcase for a later appearance as an elegant evening jacket.

Behind this purchase lies a long legacy of luxury. Brocades started as royalty’s special property for splendid robes, draperies, table covers and upholstery.

Old Chinese history says that brocade was first made in china. In 238 AD a Chinese emperor presented the Empress of Japan five rolls of the fabric, patterned with golden dragons. The Chinese exported the material to the Middle East via the caravan routes, and so the lavish cloth found its way to Persia, to the Arab land, to Istanbul, and finally to Europe.

Nowadays, you can find the most illustrious set of looms in Damascus. The weavers there dipped into the designs and legends of the past but the “Damask or Damesco˜ has become a term of any richly woven silk material, no matter where it was produced.

Manufacturing: Brocade is a fabric woven with silk and gold or silver threads. The threads used are naturally produced. Silk cocoons are first transferred into threads, then spanned twice ,three times….etc. before dying. Usually, the warp’s threads are twisted 400 or 500 times. Desired Drawings are drawn on transparent paper with the required measures. Then they are sketched and painted to graphics paper. Weavers, then, define the thread numbers in the warp, which are generally 7200 to 8100 in one yard (90 cm.)

The perforation machine then punches each cardboard linearly to be installed over the machine which sends its needles into its holes. Germans like brocade blue, Swedes pink, and Americans prefer it grey.

Haifaa Mafalani

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