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Dark Gold

The Crown Jewel of Tolaran Textiles

Despite being a recent invention in the world of textiles, Milonan Silk is now one of the most sought after (and expensive) luxury fabrics available in world markets; originating in 6390, it was developed by the Lunar Elves who sought sanctuary in the northern reaches of Tolara- 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 Kindgom of the world to manufacture Milonan Silk, and at the heart of its production sits the region's native Galycean Moth.

The Galycean Moth

galycean moth.jpg
Glowworm Beetle by Vlad Stankovic

Found only in the Athdran-Lachill Mountain Range 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 as little a 30 days to complete this cycle- though warmer temperatures than average have, at times, been known to speed up their development.

As one of the only food sources available in the Mountains year round, the moth has developed a dependency on the the Möhring Juniper (also native to the region) for its survival. Despite the dependency on the Möhring Juniper to survive, however, the relationship is ultimately 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 to no direct ill effects on the tree itself.

Where traditional silk moths produce silk during the cocooning phase, however, the threads produced by the Galycean Moth are not. Instead, the Galycean Moth spins its prized 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 their precious energy- an adaptive feature much needed in the harsh cold of their native climate.

Discovery

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 Lunar Elves to a grove of Juniper the Galycean Moths inhabited, and gave them the knowledge of how to weave their silk into fabric.

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 well insulating material. It's unknown exactly how the early Milonan settlers discovered 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 of how it was discovered, Milonan Silk not only became a staple of Lunar dress, but also an important trade product for their 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.

Sericulture

Because of its economic significance to the Lunar Elves 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 silk moth. 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.

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 and 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 Calycean 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 spinning a number of the fibers together into a strand heavy enough to safely weave with- though even these stronger, denser threads are still considered small when compared to spinning products used in the production of other textiles.

Washing and 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 Lunar Elves.

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- 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 bobins are then grouped together according to the colors needed to complete each motif, and stored until the weaving process can begin.

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. 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 over the years, their own traditional motifs have been added to the great houses pattern books. It's from these books that weaving motifs are chosen with each new batch of Milonan Silk produced.

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Imperial Motif Example; Detached Floral Mandala

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. Designs featuring birds, moths, and other animals insects are also used, but their production is rare and reserved as gifts to visiting dignitaries and the Imperial House itself.

Aleafin motifs are often produced in two tone- prefering to focus on gold or silver designs on a vibrant background. Natural colors like green and blue are preferred, but oranges and yellow are also used. Like the Imperial House, too, Aleafin prefers the use of iridescent threads to add color changing qualities to their fabric- though these contrasting threads are usually only a few shades different than the base color for the design, making their color changing much more subtle.

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Helvryn Motif Example; Detached Flame

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 are rarely produced, however, and are usually reserved for the Imperial Family itself, or as gifts for visiting dignitaries from other kingdoms.

Whether attached or detached in nature, however, Imperial motifs are most commonly produced in tricolor. Productions using more than three colors are also common, but Bronze, Gold, Pink, and blue are most commonly used. Regardless, all Imperial motifs favor dyed threads with iridescent hues. This gives finished fabrics produced by the Imperial House a vibrant, color changing quality.

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Aleafin Motif Example; Attached Leaf Scroll

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. These most commonly reflect stylized images of natural elements such as fire (from the example).

Like Aleafin designs, Helvryn motifs are only two tone- favoring the same combination of gold or silver (with the addition of bronze) on a vibrantly colored background. These colors are chosen to compliment and reflect the accompanying elemental motif being produced. Unlike Aleafin and Imperial designs, however, Helvryn backgrounds are monocrome; any variation in color is exclusively the product of minor variations in the dying process and are not considered an overt design choice.

lake_tahoe_mountain_by_chateaugrief_dclhs1r-pre.jpg
Lake Tahoe Mountain by Jean Guillet

Base Price
10 GP per Bolt

Rarity
Rare; Luxury

Significance
Cultural; Trade Good


Fabric Weight:
10 momme

Fabric Dimensions
45 in by 100 yards
114 cm by 91 meters

Bolt Weight:
2.5 lbs
1.13 kilos


Uses
Woven Print: Apparel, Home Decor, Miscellaneous Fabric Accessories

Plain, Dyed: Apparel, Home Decor, Miscellaneous Fabric Accessories, Silk Manufacturing Accessories, Military Equipment

Plain, Undyed: Silk Manufacturing Accessories, Medical Bandages and Supply Packaging, Canvas for Paintings, Military Equipment

In addition to the above uses, Milonan Silk may also occasionally be woven with threads made from Precious or Rare Materials... This includes materials like Mithril thread, used in the production of lightweight armor for military use- as well as the use of Silver and Gold thread as additional decorative elements in material meant for applications in apparel or home decor.

Silk Tax

According to the regulations surrounding Milonan Silk, put into place by The Imperial Empress, the Imperial Crown is entitled to a tax for every batch of completed Silk produced by an entity within Di'kae Milona.

With the previous Imperial Empress, this tax consisted of one bolt per year. Under Her Imperial Majesty, Sabraena Vhonne Iraelar e'ta Za'vaed, however, the tax has increased to one bolt per batch of silk produced. Additionally, this bolt must be of one of the rare motifs that each family produces for their own house.

Silk Trade

The trading of silk, like its production, is highly regulated. Only specific, authorized merchants (all of Lunar (Elf) 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.

Only one entity, Ar'lasang Vaerda'ky can freely buy Milonan Silk without worrying about shipment limitations. This exception is due largely in par tto the trade agreement between the two nations; Ar'lasang Vaerda'ky 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.

Black Market Silk

It goes without saying that, due to the rarity and cost of Milonan Silk, a large Black Market exists for the product.

Smugglers invent creative ways to obtain and pass off the material; thieves steal it- whether from shops or the houses themselves. But the truly dedicated simply make duplicate silks that are passed off as Milonan in origin.

Identifying True Milonan Silk

{CONT}

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Cover image: Treasury by Yan Nam Ko

Comments

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8 Dec, 2018 21:26

Wow! That's incredible, and a beautiful presentation! Well done!

8 Dec, 2018 21:39

Thank you, hun!