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(brōkād`), fabric, originally silk, generally reputed to have been developed to a high state of perfection in the 16th and 17th cent. in France, Italy, and Spain. In China the weaving of silk, which dates from the Shang dynasty, developed into complex patterns including moiré, damask, and brocade. Brocade is characterized by a compact warp-effect background with one or more fillings used in the construction to make the motif or figure. The filling threads, often of gold or silver in the original fabrics of this name, float in embossed or embroidered effects in the figures. Motifs may be of flowers, foliage, scrollwork, pastoral scenes, or other design. Its uses include curtaining, hangings, pillows, portieres, evening wraps, and church vestments. Similar techniques are used in the manufacture of brocades made of cotton and synthetic fibers.



an elaborately patterned fabric with a silk warp. The weft or, less frequently, the warp contains metallic threads with gold, silver, or materials simulating them. In antiquity, only gold and silver threads were used in brocading. Subsequently, alloys containing only a small amount of precious metals replaced gold and silver. Brocading usually involves winding a thin metallic ribbon around a silk or cotton thread to impart to the fabric the necessary flexibility and, at the same time, to make the fabric sufficiently heavy and sparkling.

Brocades are known to have been made in China as early as the first years of the Common Era. Brocading spread from China to Asia Minor (Syria, Persia) and later to southern Europe (Sicily, Byzantium, Italy, Spain, and France). The first attempts to manufacture brocade in Russia date to the late 16th century, when an Italian master was invited to come to Moscow. Brocades were worn as formal dress by the upper classes and as vestments by the clergy. The fabric was also used to decorate interiors.

At present (1974), very little brocade is manufactured. It is used mainly for theatrical costumes and as decorative trimming. Brocades have been replaced by synthetic fabrics made from such materials as strips of film lined with foil.


Klein, V. Inozemnye tkani, bytovavshie v Rossii do XVII veka i ikh terminologiia. Moscow, 1925.
Sobolev, N. N. Ocherkipo istorii ukrasheniia tkanei. Moscow-Leningrad, 1934.
Miliavskaia, Z. V. “Dekorativnye tkani.” In Otdelochnye materialy dlia Dvortsa Sovetov. Moscow, 1945.
Rodon, Y., and C. Font. L’Historique du métier pour la fabrication des étoffes façonnées. Paris-Liège, 1934.


Fabric made in a jacquard weave, usually with raised designs, and having a luxurious appearance; made of silk, polyester, or blends.


a. a rich fabric woven with a raised design, often using gold or silver threads
b. (as modifier): brocade curtains
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