Milonan Silk Material in Saleh'Alire | World Anvil

Milonan Silk

More Precious than Rubies

Saleh'Alire » Manufactured Materials Luxury Items

  Despite being a relatively recent invention in the world of textiles, Milonan Silk has easily become one of the most sought after (and expensive) luxury fabrics available in Aliran markets; originating in 6390, it was developed by the Lunar Eves of Tolara, who sought sanctuary in the far northern reaches of continent- a place that would eventually become known as the Athdran-Lachill Mountains in modern day Di'Kae Milona... Today, Di'Kae Milona remains the only Kingdom of the world to manufacture Milonan Silk- and at the heart of its production sits the region's humle Galycean Moth, a unique native to the area.


Gather round, and sit quietly... I'll sing you the tale of Naeta's Tears and Eilistrae's Blessing... For once our people were without any food to eat, or clothes to wear, or even a place to call our home; we were broken, and Naeta wept for us, her people. And it was Eilistrae who led Naeta into the grove, and blessed us with the Gal'Irae.
Sarala Oriynor,
h'Temni e'ta Do'rahel
Several myths exist about the discovery of the Galycean Moth and the knowledge of how to produce Milonan Silk from its fibers. The most popular of these tales, of course, involves the Lunar Goddess Eilistrae; according to the myth, the Goddess herself led the Caenala'Vian Elves to a grove of Juniper the Galycean Moths inhabited, and gave them the knowledge of how to weave their threads into fabric with which to clothe themselves.   According to Archival sources, Milonan Silk was indeed developed shortly after their arrival in the region, when it was discovered that the threads produced by the larval Galycean Moth would produce a lightweight but durable and well insulating material.
  It's unknown exactly how the early Milonan settlers discovered any of this, however- or what circumstances necessitated the discovery ... But Archivists theorize it was due (at least in part) to their inability to grow and produce more traditional textiles in the colder reaches of the north.   Regardless, Milonan Silk not only became a staple of Caenala'Vian dress, but also an important trade product for their culture, easily worth more than its weight in Platinum- and forms the backbone of their economy and culture; its discovery and popularity laid a foundation which ultimately made the nation of Di'kae Milona a possibility- and still maintains its relevancy in the global markets even in the modern day.  


  Because of its economic significance to the Caenala'Vi of Di'kae Milona, Sericulture involving the Galycean Moth (and the subsequent production of Milonan Silk) is highly regulated by The Imperial Empress. Additional complications in keeping and cultivating the Galycean Moths likewise necessitates special facilities to aid in various elements of the silk's production.  
Regulations ▼
Being a Matriarchal and Matrilineal society, Sericulture in Di'kae Milona is limited only to Women; every part of the process of silk making, from the cultivation of the Galycean Moth to the weaving, dying, and sale of the silk itself rests solely in the hands of female Lunar Elves. Men are strictly prohibited by Imperial Law from participating in any step of the process- though they're allowed to buy the material once it's complete, and own or wear items made from the material.   Not just any female of Lunar Elf descent may become an Enapi or Temni, however; Milonan slaves make up the bulk of the workers- but only pure (virginal and unmarried) slaves may so much as touch the silk fibers. These slaves are usually raised for this role from birth, in near complete isolation, in order to ensure lifelong purity ... Likewise, the role of Enapi requires not only decades of education on every step of the production process, but is strictly limited to the Matrons of the great houses- particularly those of Helvryn (ruled by House Av’yani) and Aleafin (ruled by House Do'rahel).   Both of these great houses maintain at least one Gramai somewhere within their territory. As it stands to reason, though, the Imperial House of Za'vaed itself also maintains its own Gramai accessible only to the Imperial Family; known as The Imperial Silk Garden, it is the largest Gramai ever constructed to date.
Facilities ▼
As the Galycean Moth needs a significant amount of room to freely roam between food sources, and plenty of food to consume during its larval stage, containing them is more difficult than containing the average silkmoth. Additionally, silk harvested from wild Galycean Moths is often of inferior quality due to prolonged exposure to the elements ... And because Galycean Moths produce silk during the larval stage in an effort to move between food sources more easily, it's impossible to use more traditional methods of silk cultivation- such as placing larva on mesh covered mats with foodstuffs, and harvesting the cocoons once they're formed.   As a result, structures known as Gramai are used extensively in Sericulture. These structures serve multiple purposes, and are integral to the production of every bolt of fine Milonan Silk that reaches the global markets.   Large, often aviary or greenhouse-like structures, they contain (sometimes hundreds) of Möhring Juniper within them. This allows for the Galycean Larva to have free roam between trees, as is necessary for their health. But the enclosed nature of these structures also allows the houses to maintain their Galycean stock more efficiently, as well as allowing for the easier harvest of silk once they enter their Pupal stage. Additionally, Gramai have the added benefit of protecting the delicate silk threads from the elements, resulting in a higher quality end product.

The Galycean Moth

Found only in the Athdran-Lachill Mountains in northern Tolara, the Galycean Moth has four life stages, as most Moths and Butterflies do: Egg, Larva, Pupa, and Adult; from start to finish, it takes 30 days to complete its lifecycle- though warmer temperatures have, at times, been known to speed up their development.   As one of the only evergreen food sources available, the moth has developed a dependency on the the native Möhring Juniper for its survival. Despite the dependency, however, the relationship is commensalist in nature; the Galycean Moth lays its eggs among small clusters of the Juniper's winter fruits. When the Larva emerge from their eggs, they consume these berries as their primary food source before finally making their cocoons within its uppermost branches- all with little effect on the tree.   To those unaware, the Galycean Moth is prized for its gold, orange, and black coloration and slight bioluminescence. To the Caenala'Vi of Di'kae Milona, however, it's the silk they spin that's heavily prized. But while traditional silk moths produce silk during the cocooning phase, the Galycean Moth spins its threads in an effort to navigate the boughs of the Möhring Juniper during its larval stage- well before cocooning. Traveling among the boughs this way allows them to easily navigate between food sources while conserving greater amounts of energy- an adaptive feature much needed in their native climate.

Manufacturing Process

  The process of creating Milonan Silk is a labor intensive one; very few shortcuts can be taken to speed this process- only adding to its high price at market. Because of The Imperial Empress regulations on Milonan Silk's production, however, it's unknown exactly how long each step of the process takes- only what the steps of that process are.  
Gathering the Threads ▼
Once the Galycean Moth has hatched, they start by consuming the cluster of berries in which their eggs were laid. After a few short hours, however, the ravenous larva are on to other sources- often jumping trees several times in order to satiate their hunger, after which point they migrate to the tops of the Junipers to create their cocoons. Once all Galycean larva have successfully entered their Pupal stage, harvest of the silk threads may finally being.   To harvest the strands, the Temni use a series of long rods and ladder covered in plain Milonan Silk. This allows them to reach (and subsequently remove) the thin strands of silk from the boughs of the Juniper trees- while covering all equipment in silk helps to prevent the delicate strands from snagging and breaking.   While even the shorter strands are harvested during this step, Temni often seek out the longer, unbroken threads above others.- and the longer the thread, the better. Once harvested, these threads are then bundled into woven baskets lined with plain Milonan Silk, and carefully transported elsewhere for the next stage of manufacture.
First Boil & Spinning ▼
In the next stage of production, the silk fibers that have been gathered are placed into large vats of water left to simmer over an open wood fire. Here, the silk is submerged for a number of days in order to strengthen them for spinning; it's unknown exactly why boiling the fibers increased their strength, but the difference between boiled and unboiled silk from the Galycean Moth is quite evident even to those uneducated in its production.   After they have been boiled, the bundles of strands are carefully unraveled and allowed to hang freely on long lines stretched within the Gramai. They're then anchored in place and allowed to dry in the sun for another number of days. Once sufficiently dry, they are again gathered by the Temni and spun.   Even after the first boil, however, Galycean silk threads are still too weak to withstand the intensive weaving process utilized in the manufacture of Milonan Silk. As a result, the initial spinning process focuses first and foremost on spinning a great number of these fibers together into a single strand that's heavy enough to safely weave with- though even these stronger, denser threads are still considered small when compared to spinning fibers used in the production of other textiles.
Washing & Second Boil ▼
The final weavable threads are gathered and taken out to be washed. But where each step of the process up to this point has occurred near the Gramais where the silk was harvested, this step occurs at fresh springs and streams located high up in the Athdran-Lachill Mountains; once washed thoroughly, the fibers are taken back to be boiled a second time, and hung out to dry in the same manner as before.   Despite being considered a frivolous step to many, the icy water flowing from the frigid mountainsides does serve at least one purpose: To wash out any lingering debris or impurities that may be hiding in the bundles of silken thread. This increases the quality of the thread, at the very least, and ensures an even base to which the dye can later adhere ... And while it's true silk fibers could just as easily be washed within normal water supplies, only the Mountain Springs are considered pure enough- and maintaining purity in the process is of utmost importance to the Caenala'Vi.   It's here, however, that the unwoven Silk is most vulnerable to threat from those who would seek to steal or sabotage the material, necessitating the presence of heavily armed guards during such excursions into the mountains.
Dying the Threads ▼
After the threads have been harvested, boiled, dried, washed, boiled and dried again, the final step of the process may finally commence: Dying the thread for use in the final weaved product.   Once again, dying the strands is a process that takes place in the icy peaks of the Athdran-Lachill Mountains. This time, however, a number of large copper vats accompany the Temni and their guards into the peaks. Once in position, the Temni will spread out across the mountains in search for the many traditional herbs used to dye Milonan Silk. Once gathered, these herbs are added- along with water and mordant- into the vats and left to simmer in order to color them. After several hours the fabric is removed from the vats and washed in the streams to both set the color and improve its vibrancy.   This step of the process is done in short bursts in order to allow for a more careful control over the color of the final product. But it is, perhaps, the most labor intensive step because it can take as many as 10 separate repetitions of dying, washing, and drying the silk fibers this way in order to achieve the desired color.
Preparation for Weaving ▼
After all steps have been completed, the silk is transported back to the Gramai. Here the Temni separate the strands into bundles and dry them once more for a long period. The silk is then painstakingly separated into individual threads, and checked a last time for any debris that has survived the process... It's during this phase of manufacture, too, that the silk is also carefully inspected by the Enapi to ensure both quality and integrity.   Once the strands pass the inspection they're wound onto silk covered bobbins- at which point the Enapi will choose the season's patterns from among their House's many traditional motifs. The bobbins are then grouped together according to the colors needed to complete each motif, and stored until the weaving process can begin- at which point silk threads are stretched across a special loom (called a Thela), and woven in accordance with the chosen patterns.

Pattern and Design

  Milonan Silk is unique to other Tolaran textiles (save Eris'kan Brocade) in that motifs are woven directly into the fabric during the weaving process. For that reason, each house involved in the production of Milonan Silk maintains a book of traditional motifs passed down through the ages. As the great houses have incorporated other lesser families into their folds over the years, their own traditional motifs have been added to the great houses pattern books with slight modifications; it's from these books that weaving motifs are chosen with each new batch of Milonan Silk produced.  
Imperial Motifs ▼
Designs produced by the Imperial House of Za'vaed favor diamond, floral, starburst, and mandala elements. In most cases the various elements of these designs are attached through a network of lines or scroll work- though free floating, detached motifs also exist in their pattern books.   These detached designs are rarely produced, however. When they are, these bolts are usually reserved for use by the Imperial Family itself. They are also frequently given as gifts to visiting dignitaries from other kingdoms- such as a bolt with a Detached Starburst Mandala design, gifted to Baia Döhl-Karte (of Marjaan) for her wedding in 6438... Even more rarely, these motifs are also be gifted to Milonan citizens in acknowledgement of extraordinary deeds performed in service of the Imperial Crown. The most recent example of this includes a bolt of silk featuring a Detached Floral Diamond motif, gifted to General Reseda e'ta Torceran for their hand in ending the Mythril War in 6540.   Whether attached or detached in nature, however, Imperial motifs are almost always produced in tricolor. Productions using more than three colors are also seen, but are always reserved exclusively for Detached motifs; Bronze, Gold, Pink, and Blue are the most commonly used colors for all motifs, but all Imperial motifs favor threads dyed in a way that produces iridescent hues ... This method (closely guarded by the Imperial Crown and seen in no other House's productions) gives finished fabrics produced by the Imperial House a vibrant, color changing quality; those who have been lucky enough to receive a bolt of Silk produced by the Imperial House describe the fabric as being nearly ethereal in nature, with a sheen that makes the fabric look as if it glows in the right lighting.
Aleafin Motifs ▼
Motifs produced by House Do'rahel in the Aleafin region favor intricate, attached scroll work with natural themes. These usually include stylized fans, leaves, flowers, and other elements of nature. More complicated designs featuring birds, moths, and other animals insects are also used in Aleafin silk production. However, their appearances are incredibly rare; like rare Imperial Motifs, these bolts are reserved for use as gifts to visiting dignitaries- and as taxes paid to the Imperial House itself.   Two such samples of this nature exist: One Attached Beetle and Flower Scroll given to Deòrsa Fiach Áirachláin (Grandson of the Càer Rótàrlach of Anndrach, in Castrillis) in 6601- and another given to the Imperial House ... The later, an Attached Floral Scroll featuring a Mockingbird, was used in the creation of Her Imperial Majesty, Sabraena Vhonne Iraelar e'ta Za'vaed's wedding dress for her marriage to Vezimar Calphrin e'ta Av’yani in 6550.   Aleafin motifs are often produced in two tone colors. Here, motifs are woven in either gold or silver and displayed against a vibrantly colored background. More natural colors tend to be preferred, such as Green and Blue- though Orange and Yellow are also used; Purple, Red, and Pink silks are incredibly rare for House Do'rahel to manufacture ... But like the Imperial House, the Aleafin region prefers the use of iridescent threads to add color changing qualities to their fabric- though in this case these contrasting threads are not truly iridescent. Instead, the appearance of color changing fabric is achieved through the careful use of multiple thread colors as opposed to dying techniques; using threads that are only a few shades different than the base color for the design, and weaving them sporadically through the design, creates a much more subtle appearance of color shifting.
Helvryn Motifs ▼
In entire the history of the great house situated in the Helvryn region of Di'kae Milona, the House of Av’yani has never produced a single attached design- favoring, instead, detached designs with a significant margin of space between the individual elements. In all cases, these motifs most commonly reflect stylized images of natural elements such as fire.   Because this region doesn't produce attached motifs, their rare designs tend to feature interspersed designs. For instance, a Solar element may be interspersed with a Flame element in alternating- such as in the case of the bolt gifted to Princess Amayla e'Awenath of Eris'ka for her coming of age in 6625. Another example is a bolt featuring Water elements interspersed with Moon elements that was gifted to Her Majesty, Istriona Catalain Bairr of Ar'lasang Vaerda'ky, for her coronation in 6622; these designs are rarely generic, and the House puts great thought into the design- producing their motifs based on the person it is meant as a gift for.   Like Aleafin designs, Helvryn motifs are only produced in two tone- favoring the same combination of gold or silver (with the addition of bronze) on a vibrantly colored background. In all cases, the colors used in the silk are chosen for the explicit purpose of complimenting- and reflecting- the accompanying elemental motif being used in the production ... Unlike Aleafin and Imperial designs, however, Helvryn backgrounds are monochromatic in nature; any variation in color is exclusively the product of minor variations in the dying process, and are not considered an overt design choice on the part of the region.
  In addition to weaving motifs, however, these Pattern Books also contain other information related to silk production. This information includes (but is not limited to) the House's traditional dye recipes, production spots, information on the care of the Galycean Moths, and more; these familial books are integral to maintaining their individual tradition of Silk Production. As a result, they are often heavily guarded and many families keep multiple copies in safe locations.  

Final Result & Uses

Luxury Trade Good   Rarity
Incredibly Rare   Significance
Cultural + Religious   Price
8 GP - 2 PL per bolt
Fabric Weight:
10 momme   Fabric Dimensions
45 in by 100 yards
114 cm by 91 meters   Bolt Weight
2.5 lbs
1.13 kilos
The manufacturing process creates a limited variety of silks that fall into three typical categories: Plain undyed silk, plain dyed silk, and woven prints. Some are, of course, more popular than the other types produced. But all the types of silk manufactured have found widespread use within Lunar Elf society. These uses do vary significantly per the type of silk, however.   Special threads made from precious or rare materials may also be added during weaving, however, to expand the available uses. This includes Mithral thread, used in the production of lightweight armor for military use. Silver and Gold thread are also added as additional decorative elements.
Plain, Undyed ▼
Silk manufacturing, medical bandages, supply packaging, art canvas, and basic military equipment.
Plain, Dyed ▼
Silk manufacturing, apparel, home decor, accessories, and higher quality Military Equipment.
Woven, Print ▼
Evening and luxury apparel, Home Decor, and other Fabric Accessories.

The Silk Trade

The trading of silk, like its production, is highly regulated. Only specific, authorized merchants (all of Caenala'Vian origin) are allowed to sell or trade the fabric- and only from previously approved locations. Additionally, sale of silk to certain entities is regulated.   In the case of Eris'ka, the sale is strictly prohibited. Other entities such as Saethar'Kori are only allowed to buy certain quantities; overseas, Castrillis and Olienn have tumultuous relationships- making shipments sporadic and highly dependant on the political relations of the three nations at any given moment. And while Martova maintains a steady supply, they're subjected to the same quantity sanctions as Saethar'Kori due to a lack of interest in developing relationships between the two nations- especially since Martova isn't technically a nation in and of itself.   Only one entity, Ar'lasang Vaerda'ky, can freely buy Milonan Silk without worrying about shipment limitations. This exception is due largely in par to the trade agreement between the two nations; Ar'lasang provides a continuous supply of Slaves in order to meet Di'kae Milona's demands, and are allowed to buy an unregulated amount of Milonan Silk in exchange.
According to the regulations surrounding Milonan Silk, put into place by The Imperial Empress, the Imperial Crown is entitled to a tax on every batch of completed Silk produced by an entity within Di'kae Milona.   With the first Imperial Empress, Her Imperial Majesty Nhiliara Parindi e'ta Za'vaed, this tax consisted of one bolt per year. Under Her Imperial Majesty Sabraena Vhonne Iraelar e'ta Za'vaed, however, it increased to one bolt per batch produced. Additionally, the bolt must be of one of the rare motifs that each family produces for their own house.   These bolts are kept in storage at the House's main Gramai and delivered to the Imperial Court once per year. Occasionally these shipments may be requested early, such as in the case of a visiting dignitary of great importance. Usually, however, tax shipments are delivered during the week leading up to Fael Shi'thara Dul Feneta, and presented at the opening ceremony conducted by Her Imperial Majesty.

Black Market Silks

  It goes without saying that, due to the rarity and cost of Milonan Silk, a large Black Market exists for the product: Thieves steal it- whether from shops, others, or even the houses themselves. Smugglers have invented numerous creative ways to obtain, transport, and pass off the material for sale ... But the truly dedicated simply make duplicate silks (usually from real, common silk produced elsewhere in the world) that are passed off as Milonan in origin.   In all cases, those involved with the Black Market Milonan Silk trade are often associated with various Shadow Guilds operating outside of Di'kae Milona. But the heaviest concentration of such operations exists, quite ironically, within Ar'lasang Vaerda'ky itself- a Kingdom known for its open acceptance of Piracy, Smuggling, and nefarious professions of similar types. Agreements between Ar'lasang Vaerda'ky and Di'kae Milona dictate that such operations involving Milonan Silk be considered a crime. As a result, they are formally outlawed by the Ar'lasang Monarchy. This has not, however, prevented these operations from continuing within its borders.

Imitation vs Genuine

  True Milonan Silk is only produced from the threads of the Galycean Moth, and literally cannot be produced by any other creature- though many attempts have been made over the years. However, the difference is always tangible: Galycean threads are denser than threads created by other silk producing species of insects, giving finished Milonan Silk a heavier physical weight as a result when compared to other silks of the same quality and weave density. The density of Galycean threads, too, makes Milonan Silk far more durable by comparison- while being thinner despite their density also means that Milonan Silk isn't nearly as thick as other Silk varieties.   Skill also factors into the difference; Milonan Silks are expertly produced, start to finish, by Temni raised explicitly for this purpose from birth. As a result, Milonan Silk has very few errors and frogging or warping of the fabric rarely occurs. Milonan Silk is also more tightly woven than imitations. And since the motifs are traditionally woven into the fabrics during their production, it's very easy to spot the difference between True Milonan Silk and an imitation that's simply been painted or stamped.

Cover image: Leather Bag by Dan Meyers
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Author's Notes

▼ Please Read Before You Comment ▼
I absolutely love getting feedback on my setting and its worldbuilding. I love it even more when people poke and prod at it, and ask questions about the things I've built within it. I want both. I actively encourage both. And it makes me incredibly giddy whenever I get either. However, there's a time and a place for critique in particular- mostly when I've actually asked for it (which usually happens in World Anvil's discord server). And when I do ask for critique, there are two major things I politely request that you do not include in your commentary:   ➤ The first is any sort of critique on the way I've chosen to organize or format something; Saleh'Alire is not a narrative world written for reader enjoyment... It's is a living campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons. To that end, it's written and organized for my players and I, specifically for ease of use during gameplay- and our organization needs are sometimes very different than others'. They are especially diferent, often-times, from how things "should be organized" for reader enjoyment.   ➤ Secondly, is any critique about sentence phrasing and structure, word choice, and so on; unless you've specifically found a typo, or you know for a provable fact I've blatantly misued a word, or something is legitimately unclear explicitly because I've worded it too strangely? Then respectfully: Don't comment on it; as a native English speaker of the SAE dialect, language critique in particular will almost always be unwelcome unless it's absolutely necessary. This is especially true if English is not you first language to begin with. My native dialect is criticized enough as it is for being "wrong", even by fellow native English speakers ... I really don't want to deal with the additional linguistic elitism of "formal english" from Second-Language speakers (no offense intended).   That being said: If you want to ask questions, speculate, or just ramble? Go for it! I love talking about my setting and I'm always happy to answer any questions you have, or entertain any thoughts about it. Praise, of course, is always welcome too (even if it's just a casual "this is great", it still means a lot to authors)- and if you love it, please don't forget to actually show that love by liking it and sharing it around. Because I genuinely do enjoy watching people explore and interact with my setting, and ask questions about it, and I'd definitely love to hear from you... Just be respectful about it, yeah?

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Nov 26, 2020 06:34

I really like the aesthetics of this article! There's plenty of interesting information about the silk and how it fits into the world without things getting too cluttered, and I like how more in-depth stuff is tucked behind those buttons. How did you do the scrolling containers?

Nov 26, 2020 17:42 by Anna Katherina

They're just a default spoiler with the text well set to a max height so they don't keep going on for ages. The color change is done through additional containers affecting the spoiler button in its active, selected, default, and hover states. Pretty simple!

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