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     Silk Road Story    
What is Silk Road?  

The Silk Road dates back to ancient times. The Romans were fond of silk imported from China. One Roman Emperor even placed a ban on people wearing silk because it was believed to be excessive and decadent.

   
 
In China silk production was a closely guarded state secret. Exporting silk, and especially the treasured silk worm without government approval, was a capital offense. This brought the whole world to China via the Silk Road.
Silk goods traveled a few days with one caravan, then were traded to the next. The route left Asia into southern Russia and India, to Persia, and finally to Turkey and then Rome. Along the way many ideas, inventions, and religions were traded along with the treasured Silk. The prophet Mohammed was a caravan leader on this route.   
Not only were the materials themselves exchanged, but also weaving procedures, looms, and patterns. Today we know that many traditional Japanese patterns were adopted from their Persian counterparts at the end of the Silk Road.    

What is Zipangu?          

When Marco Polo returned from the orient in in the 13th century, he described lands that were exotic and unknown to Europeans.  He wrote of a country of gold, which stretched beyond the Silk Road.  This is the ancient land of Zipangu.  Most people doubted its existence, but today we know it as Japan.

 

What is obi?

Obi is the decorative sash or belt worn with Japanese kimono. Chinese silk fabric was imported to Japan in the 5th century. By the 15th century, Japan's Muromachi Period, simple and functional Kosode clothing was developed. Kosode were accompanied by 6 cm wide obi belts. It is the predecessor of today's Japanese kimono and obi.

   
Obi is the decorative sash or belt worn with Japanese kimono. Chinese silk fabric was imported to Japan in the 5th century. By the 15th century, Japan's Muromachi Period, simple and functional Kosode clothing was developed. Kosode were accompanied by 6 cm wide obi belts. It is the predecessor of today's Japanese kimono and obi.  
 
 From the 17th century, Japan's Edo Period, kimono and obi became more and more beautiful. Japan had just finished a long civil war and was in its most peaceful and prosperous period. All of Japan's fine arts were fully developed, and artisans began to gain fame and respect. The kimono belt, obi, became a beautiful art object. It was no longer a part of the kimono, but an item of art in itself.  The obi's length and width grew, up to 34 cm wide. The hand painted kimono designs and woven patterns of obi also became more extravagant. They were popular accessories for Kabuki actors, young girls, courtesans, and geisha.
 Today, the obi is the most decorative and expensive part of the kimono. It can be worn in dozens of ways. Some knots are appropriate for certain occasions, some are for young girls, and some are for weddings. The obi is a national treasure of Japan.