For 350 years, Großschönau was the centre of damask production in Germany, which today is shown at functional machines in the German Damask and Terry Museum.
In Upper Lusatia the rapidly growing population was constantly in search of employment opportunities. While elsewhere support came from the outside – from Bohemian immigrants or Silesian entrepreneurs, for instance – the inhabitants of Gross-Schönau took the matter into their own hands. It was to be the production of damask. Since a trip to the eponymous Damascus was already dangerous in those days, and a visit to Persia or China, from where the technology came, seemed even more utopian, it was to Holland that the brothers Friedrich and Christoph Lange were sent to learn the craft – and import the technology. The experiment was a success. From 1666 to 1933 there was no more important place of damask production in Germany than the village of Gross-Schönau, in which 100 damask looms were at times in operation simultaneously and where three-quarters of the population lived directly from damask weaving. The products now called damask are “only” Jacquard weaves. Real damask was in fact a luxury product that was manufactured on Zampel looms or draw looms. Among the nearly 30 functional machines in the German Damask and Terry Museum is probably the only functional hand-draw damask loom as well as the last surviving terry hand loom in Germany. In turn, terry production came into Upper Lusatia in the middle of the 19th century. But that is another story.