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In Guatemala, brocade is the most popular technique used to decorate fabric woven by Maya weavers on backstrap looms.
Ornamental features in brocade are emphasized and wrought as additions to the main fabric, sometimes stiffening it, though more frequently producing on its face the effect of low relief.
From this point until the 9th century, Byzantium became the biggest and most central producer for all of the Western world in the production of all types of silk motifs, including brocades, damasks, brocatelles and tapestry-like fabrics.
During the Early Middle Ages, brocade fabrics were only available to the wealthiest of people as the Byzantine emperor charged extreme prices for the fabric.
From the 4th to the 6th centuries, production of silk was seemingly non-existent, as linen and wool were the predominant fabrics.
During this period, there was no public knowledge of silk fabric production except for that which was kept secret by the Chinese.
The name, related to the same root as the word "broccoli", comes from Italian broccato meaning "embossed cloth", originally past participle of the verb broccare "to stud, set with nails", from brocco, "small nail", from Latin broccus, "projecting, pointed". It is a supplementary weft technique; that is, the ornamental brocading is produced by a supplementary, non-structural, weft in addition to the standard weft that holds the warp threads together.
The motifs remained Chinese, Indian and Persian in origin and were a reflection of the trading between the Far East and Italy.
Over the years, knowledge of silk production became known among other cultures and spread westward.
As silk production became known to Western cultures, trade from the east began to decrease.
All of these activities became a stage for the display of fashion.
Wealthy noblemen and noblewomen dressed in silk brocades from Italy, and velvets trimmed with fur from Germany.