While most nowadays would consider damask a pattern, it technically is a type of fabric. Damask uses a few types of weaving techniques to produce areas of distinctive sheens in the cloth. These parts will reflect light differently, giving off diverse tones. Because the pattern is woven into the fabric, it is always reversible.
Damask was first fabricated in China and found its way to Europe in the 14th century. Early European damasks were designed with animals, flowers and fruit. During the Renaissance, the most notable damask scrollwork designs became popular, and still are today.
In 1801, the Jacquard loom was invented and it revolutionized fabric making. This allowed weavers to produce fabric quicker and at a lower cost. This allowed the fabric to be purchased by the middle class instead of remaining a product only for the rich.
Today, there is a large variety of damask that ranges from the traditional to more unique and from fabric to wallpaper to art.