brocade (brōkādˈ) [key], 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.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.