The Archives of Suzhou Silk Samples of Modern and Contemporary Times span a period of one hundred years in the 19th and 20th centuries and consist of 302,841 silk samples in 28,650 volumes from 41 silk enterprises. Eighty two percent of the samples were produced by weaving and eighteen percent were produced by printing and dyeing. The samples were collected in a two-year period starting in 2003 and are mainly from Suzhou, although the collection also includes samples from other silk producing provinces. Many of the samples also have technical information attached.
The archives contain the fourteen main categories of silk fabrics: habotai, crepe, satin, twill, chiffon, faille, velvet, gauze, tapestry satin, brocade, silk poplin, spun silk, taffeta.
They also include examples of Song brocade which has been listed as one of China’s intangible cultural heritages and is on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The Archives can be used to study the exchange of technologies and industrial techniques between the West and China and also to research the beginning of Chinese industrial development. Silk was also sold to other countries. These silk patterns were specially designed for the specific country and mirror the changes over the period in the social culture of these countries. The Archives of Suzhou Silk Samples of Modern and Contemporary Times are also inscribed on the China national register for Memory of the World.