Damask Definition and DesignsBrittany Wittman McLaughlin
Produced in China over a thousand years ago, the ornamental reversible weave usually in one color was originally produced in silk and wool. Damask reached Europe from Damascus, then a center of land trade on the silk road, when Marco Polo returned to Venice in 1295 with crimson damask in the bundles he carried with him. The genuine article was once the wallpaper of the wealthy.
Very early European damasks featured flowers, fruit and animals The usual designs are in an established Renaissance style of large-scale formal patterns featuring highly stylized floral motifs, acanthus leaves, and feathers.
The word “damask” first appeared in records in a Western European language in the mid-14th century in French. By the 14th century, damasks were being woven on draw looms in Italy. From the 14th to 16th century, most damasks were woven in one color with a glossy warp-faced satin pattern against a duller ground.
Printed damask fabrics mimic the Jacquard woven patterns and are vastly less expensive. Both printed and woven damasks are traditionally used in draperies and traditional upholstery fabrics, and bedding.
Damasks are still used today in a variety of products. Check out our damask designs for use on any print-on-demand products.
Textile Designs: Two Hundred Years of European and American Patterns Organized by Motif, Style, Color, Layout, and Period, Susan Meller and Joost Elffers