Atlas silk is famous for its rich and bright colors and distinctive changing zigzag patterns. It has been used by Uygur women for clothing and interior design for centuries. Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is the birthplace of Atlas silk.
Folklore has it during the Han dynasty a princess who came to the region for marriage brought a silkworm cocoon with her. Local residents since began to produce silkworms and weave silk.
The manufacturing techniques of the ancient cloth have barely changed over the last 2,000 years. Reeling silk, spinning thread, dyeing and weaving... It takes much more time to produce Atlas silk by hand than producing artificial silk by machine. Even the most skilled hands can only weave three meters a day.
Fashion designers have also started using the material in their creations, creatively mixing the traditional art and modern techniques and bringing the fabric to the catwalk. Atlas silk products have been sold to about 25 countries and regions, attracting merchants from countries including the United States and Germany. The product has also become a hit on e-commerce platforms.
Due to low output, meager profits, and the impact of the modern textile industry, Atlas silk started declining. Many villagers whose families had been weaving for generations turned to other lines of work to make a living. To rejuvenate the industry, villagers got free silk weaving machines. Experienced craftspeople give free training to villagers.