Silks and Religions in Eurasia, c. A.D. 600–1200
For more than a thousand years, long-distance trade in silk flourished over trade routes passing through some of the most inhospitable terrain on earth. Commerce in silk persisted for two main reasons. First, silk became a status symbol in several important states. Both China during the Sui and Tang dynasties and the Byzantine empire established dress codes in which silk indicated high status in bureaucratic and ecclesiastical hierarchies. Both states also enacted sumptuary laws banning the wearing of silk and other unwarranted clothing by commoners. Second, silk became a sacred object and a token of sacred objects among both Buddhists and Christians. Buddhist monks and merchants carried silk to India out of devotion. Meanwhile, silk costumes became necessary regalia for Christian priests, and silk fabrics served as ceremonial covers for the relics of saints.

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