Silks from China and the Islamic Near East introduced radically new designs with asymmetry and exotic animals around 1300, which Italian silk designers incorporated in an international style to compete with imports from the East. These large palmette leaves were adapted from Islamic silks whereas the recumbent deer, birds, and dogs (visible at the bottom) were popular Italian motifs. Textiles were lucrative commercial commodities during the Middle Ages. Intrepid Italian merchants traveled by land and sea to China, Mongolia, India, and the Islamic Near East, led by the maritime republics of Venice and Genoa. The renowned Venetian, Marco Polo, published his overland journey across Asia to China in 1265.
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