Strong, soft and lustrous fibre produced by the larvae of certain moths. The most widely exploited variety for the manufacture of textiles is derived from the cocoons of the Bombyx mori moth, which is fed on mulberry leaves. Although its economic significance is relatively minor, as it has always been an expensive and rare commodity and used only for the clothing and furnishings of the wealthy, silk has been very significant to the arts. Its ability to take dyestuffs results in fabrics of rich, dazzling colours, and it has been used for the manufacture of a wide variety of textiles, from heavy, rich velvets to the most delicate gauze. Due to its wide dispersal through international trade, it has also been an important means of disseminating ornament and pattern.