What is DAMASK?

Damask is one of the most luxurious woven silk fabrics in the world. It is reversible and is handmade of 100% natural silk woven on a hand jacquard loom (النول). This lustrous fabric is characterised by distinctive patterns and designs that are merged with the fabric instead of being printed on it. The designs and patterns are inspired from ancient culture, art and nature of the people of Damascus and neighbouring countries.


History of DAMASK


A symbol of Damascene heritage, Damask has been produced in Damascus since the Middle Ages at least. The fabric takes its name from the city of Damascus in Syria, which was an active trading port on the ancient silk road at that time; making the city extremely invested in the Brocade industry.

The Damask traditional method of production requires countless hours, efforts and precision techniques, all which make the fabric one of a kind, valuable and requested by the kings and queens all around the world.

Some interesting historical royal facts: 

- It is claimed that Queen Zenobia of Palmyra's wardrobe was full of Damask fabrics and dresses when she was taken as a captive to Rome after her defeat against Emperor Orlyanos of Rome (272 A.C - 3rd century).

- The word Damask was mentioned for the first time in Europe in the mid XIV century in the French court. It is said that the French queen Marie Antoinette, wife of the French King Louis XVI, was fond of Damask brocade and that her wardrobe included at least 72 Damask dresses.

- Queen Elizabeth II of Britain's wedding dress fabric was made of Damask Brocade that was especially woven for her in Damascus. The design on the fabric is now called the queen's design and it consists of embroidered star flowers, roses, jasmine blossoms and ears of wheat.


How is DAMASK produced?

At first, silk threads were imported from China, but in the last century, Syrian artisans have been using the silk produced in the Syrian town of Al-Draikish, famous for its breeding of silkworms when feeding it with mulberry leaves. The silk collected is then sent to Aleppo to be treated, curved, bleached and dyed; for it to be finally ready for weaving in Damascus.

In Damascus, the silk is woven by hand on a Jacquard loom through a combination of two different weaving techniques. The background is achieved using a plain or twill weave technique, whereas the design is woven using a more delicate technique, the satin weave technique. The upper part of the loom is called the jacquard, and it is the main part responsible for the translation of the design from paper to weaving. 

What are the characteristics of DAMASK?

  • Patterned - Damask is defined by its pattern, created through a blend of weaving techniques.

  • Thick and heavy - The damask pattern is a very tight weave comprising several layers of threads, resulting in a thick textile.

  • Durable - The tight weave also makes damask incredibly strong and durable, making it great for clothing and items in the home that get regular wear, such as upholstered chairs and couches.

  • Reversible - Damask is also reversible—the pattern is reflected on both sides.

  • Lustrous - Damask is generally woven using the satin weave technique, giving the fabric a lustrous, shiny quality.

“How Is Damask Used?

Damask is a versatile fabric with several uses, from clothing to home decoration. Here are some of the popular uses of damask:

  • Table linens. Damask is used for table sets, like napkins, table runners, and tablecloths. Damask is both decorative, durable, and able to withstand daily use.

  • Clothing. Damask is used for clothing items, like decorative jackets or evening gowns. While the thick fabric doesn’t possess the same drape as other lightweight fabrics, the sturdiness creates a structured silhouette.

  • Accessories. Damask is also popular for fashion accessories like scarves and handbags. The beautiful pattern and dense fabric creates an appealing look for statement items.

  • Home decor. Damask is a staple of home decor as a result of its attractive patterns. Damask’s durable nature makes it great for upholstery and curtains.

  • Wallpaper. Damask wallpaper is also very popular, but using the actual fabric is quite expensive and labour-intensive to attach to wall. Many damask wallpapers simply replicate the damask pattern, which looks great in homes due to the simple, repeated design.”

— Marc Jacob for MASTERCLASS