Think about the ancient civilisations of Asia, and if you’re anything like me, it won’t be long before you begin conjuring up mental pictures of beautiful men and women dressed in fabulously rich and decadent clothing; the iconic Japanese kimono [着物], the elegant Chinese cheongsam or qipao [旗袍] or perhaps even the Korean hanbok [한복]. The fabrics used to make these garments have long been popular trade commodities between the east and west – especially silk, which has been developed in China since around 3500 BC – and intricately decorated, through printing, dyeing, weaving and embroidery.
Silk brocade remains a popular Chinese export even today and its history goes back to at least the third century AD. Often mistaken for tapestry or embroidered fabric, brocade is in fact woven and is traditionally used for clothing, bedspreads, furniture and many other household items. The fabulous patterns and scenes depicted on brocade were often so intricate and beautiful that they appealed to the belief they were real…
“So, traveller! Welcome to Rothbury. Thinking of crossing the treacherous Simonside hills? I’d advise you not to try it in the dark. As any shepherd worth his wool would tell you, and I am he, the area is full of sharp crags and ravines in which one false step could mean serious injury… or even death.
Few people know that this hospitable part of the country is the home of a peculiar race of dwarves known as the Duergar. No one knows why they chose to live here, of all places. Maybe there’s gold hidden among those cliffs? Or maybe they just like to carry off my sheep. One thing’s true, though. They are malicious little buggers. Hairless, no higher than your knee. Would kill you as soon as look at you; and look they will, for no one ever heard them speak a word.