What is a True Damask weave? The original luxury weave for silk, Damask is "a rich silk fabric with woven floral designs made in China and introduced into Europe through Damascus, from which it derived it's name (Fairchild, p. 170). The introduction to Europe was by way of Crusader's returning from the crusades by way of Damascus, Syria. More commonly known as Jacquard due to modern damask is woven on a Jacquard loom, damask is a combination of satin and twill, or satin and plain weaves, to form a pattern.
So that is the simple explanation, But simplicity often needs more explanation. In an earlier post I explained what is satin, plain, and twill weave. When they are combined in to a single piece of weaving, they create damask. Like this:
So in the above picture, the plain weave is predominant, with the satin weave creating the design. But the beauty of a true damask is that it is one hundred percent reversible. So that the flip side of THIS design, looks like this:
So here, the satin weave is predominant with the design being in plain weave. Both images come from the same bolt of fabric...Acanthus Scroll Silk Damask.
Silk Damask is fairly easy to work with, will crease beautifully when ironed, gathers well, pleats well, is soft and draping and simply elegant. And while it can be woven in one color, it can also be two-toned. For two-tone damask, the warp threads are one color and the weft threads are a second color. Two-tone damasks are thread dyed first. This means the warp threads are dyed the first color, and the weft threads dyed the second color, prior to weaving. The effect is less subtle than monotone damask but can be very dramatic.
Over the years, Damask has come to be synonymous with any scroll design with a vaguely eastern flavor. Which is plainly inaccurate. True damasks create this tone on tone design in the weaving for subtle elegance or dramatic effect.