丝绸 Sī chóu (Silk)

By: Ashley Olvera, Jared Garza, and Julieta Rueda DeLeon

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Who invented silk?

One day, when the empress(the wife of the emperor) was sipping tea under a mulberry tree, a cocoon fell into her cup and began to unravel. The empress became so enamored with the shimmering threads, she discovered their source, the Bombyx mori silkworm found in the white mulberry. The empress soon developed sericulture, the cultivation of silkworms, and invented the reel and loom. Thus began the history of silk.

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When was silk created?

Chinese legend gives the title Goddess of Silk to Lady Hsi-Ling-Shih, wife of the mythical Yellow Emperor, who was said to have ruled China in about 3000 BC. She is credited with the introduction of silkworm rearing and the invention of the loom.

What was the reason for inventing silk?

There was no particular reason, it wasn't actually invented but discovered. After being discovered it was used to create many types of fabrics of different uses.

How does silk work?


Cultivation of the silkworm is known as sericulture. Although many insects produce silk, only the filament produced by Bombyx mori, the mulberry silk moth and a few others in the same genus, is used by the commercial silk industry.


The first stage of silk production is the laying of silkworm eggs, in a controlled environment such as an aluminum box, which are then examined to ensure they are free from disease. The female deposits 300 to 400 eggs at a time.Once hatched, the larvae are placed under a fine layer of gauze and fed huge amounts of chopped mulberry leaves during which time they shed their skin four times. The larvae may also feed on Osage orange or lettuce. Larvae fed on mulberry leaves produce the very finest silk. The larva will eat 50,000 times its initial weight in plant material. The silkworm attaches itself to a compartmented frame, twig, tree or shrub in a rearing house to spin a silk cocoon over a 3 to 8 day period. This period is termed pupating. As the sericin protects the silk fiber during processing, this is often left in until the yarn or even woven fabric stage. Raw silk is silk that still contains sericin. Once this is washed out (in soap and boiling water), the fabric is left soft, lustrous, and up to 30% lighter. The amount of usable silk in each cocoon is small, and about 2500 silkworms are required to produce a pound of raw silk.

- Is mainly gather by the spit of a larva or silk worm then after a period of time about 3 to 8 day it process until the yarn or even women fabric stage. Is mostly use for fabrics, such as clothes, curtains, bed covers, etc.

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Did any other invention get inspired by silk?

There was one invention we found that was inspired by silk. This invention was the silk loom. A loom is a device used to weave cloth. The silk loom weaves the silk into cloth to use for clothes and other necessities. This loom increased the amount of silk production than if people were to weave the silk by hand.
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Summary

How have these inventions gotten to Europe?

The Chinese were destined to lose their monopoly on silk production. Sericulture reached Korea around 200 BC, when waves of Chinese immigrants arrived there. It is also said that in AD 440, a prince of Khotan courted and won a Chinese princess. The princess smuggled out silkworm eggs by hiding them in her voluminous hairpiece. Then around AD 550, two Nestorian monks appeared at the Byzantine Emperor Justinian's court with silkworm eggs hid in their hollow bamboo staves. Under their supervision the eggs hatched into worms, and the worms spun cocoons. Then around 200 BC, the Silk Road opened allowing for open trade.

Why do you these took centuries to reach Europe?

We believe silk took a while to reach because of the value and beauty of silk. It was a better product than most clothing and very appealing to nations around China. Because of the value, China wanted to keep the production of silk a secret so they could trade and make a good profit from it.

The most important thing we learned about this lesson and what we think about silk and our use of these inventions today

The most important thing we learned in this lesson was how silk was discovered/"invented". At our age, all people know about silk is that it was once a very expensive commodity and the textbooks will only tell you the recorded facts of how silk was invented. However, it's important to know the cultural part of how silk was invented, including the myth of the legendary Empress of Silk.


We believe that silk was a discovery, even though it wasn't planned, nowadays it's very useful. Our use of silk today is still very useful as we use silk for different things such as bedding, clothing, and even furniture.