Needles have been found in some of China's earliest inhabited sites. Abundant evidence of the making of fabrics from hemp and ramie has been found in sites of the fifth millennium b.c.e. Spindle whorls of stone or pottery found in these sites confirm the spinning of hemp or ramie fibers into threads for weaving and sewing. Components of what may have been a backstrap loom have also been identified. Impressions of woven materials on the bases of pottery vessels, such as those found at Banpo, Shaanxi province, suggest the varied uses of coarse cloth or matting, in this case to create a simple turntable for pottery making. Remains at sites of the Liangzhu culture of the Lower Yangtze River region confirm the initiation of sericulture by the third millen-
The Manila Galleon
The fall of Constantinople in 1453 disrupted trade and led Europeans to find their own sea routes to Asia. Chinese silk textiles were included in the earliest voyages of the Manila galleon in 1573. According to the inventory by Antonio de Morga, president of the audiencia at Manila, Spanish traders bought:
raw silk in bundles, . . . fine untwisted silk, white and of all colors, . . . quantities of velvets . . . others with body of gold and embroidered with gold; woven stuffs and brocades, of gold and silver upon silk . . . gold and silver thread . . . damasks, satins, taffetas, . . . linen . . . cotton. (Schurz, p. 73)
nium b.c.e. Here can be found the earliest confirmed evidence of the development of the complex process of raising silkworms (Bombyx mori), harvesting the filaments from their cocoons and then reeling the silk and weaving it into cloth.
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