According to the Chinese legends the silk came into being in Emperor Huang Ti‘s garden in B.C. 2640. Huang Ti asked his wife to looking for the reason why the mulberry trees perish. Hszi Lingsi discovered the pests are white worms, which make white cocoons. One of chrysalis fallen into a lukewarm water. She noticed that she able to pull out a long thread from it and she able to it coil up it. She discovered the secret of making silk. This secret stayed in China for 2000 years. Imperial law ordered if someone to reveal the secret punishment of death.
How the secret of making silk transferred from East to West?
In B.C. 550 two monks visited Justinianus I. the Emperor of The Eastern Roman Empire in Constantinople. The luxus fabric made on a small Greek island. However, it made from a wild silkworm cocoon, which was feeding from oak leaves. It wasn’t similar to the Chinese silk. So the Byzantines bought the silk from the Chinese traders and transported it on the dangerous Silk Road, from 4.800 km distance. It was too expensive. Justinianus gave gifts to the monks and they promised huge rewards if they bring original bring white silkworms. They went back to China and got some silkworm eggs. The precious eggs they hidden in bamboo sticks. When they came back to Constantinople, they taught to Byzantines how care of the eggs and raised the worms. From them made the first Europeans soft silk fabric. However, the silkworms are still more comfortable with the Chinese white mulberry leaf. This is the reason why todays largely Europe’s imports of raw silk from China.
The silk threads weaves by domesticated silk moth larvae (Bombyx mori). The production of silk has four phases: mulberry tree planting and care, silkworm rearing, silk fibers coil up and textile weaving. In the spring the silkworms brought up two months of intensive work. The incubation lasts about eight days, and the caterpillars fed for nearly a month mulberry leaves. During this period their body weight of 10 000-fold. Eating is not limited by their breathing is not because their bodies are in the air holes. First, they recorded a fine mesh, and the eight heads in a form describing the movement back and forth shaking, and are building a nice waterproof cocoon. A full three days to create a cocoon. During the three days the larva moves can carry up to 300,000 head. Each cocoon consists of a single fiber (about 1,6 km long). Preparation of a tie need 110 cocoons.
The Chinese still have a very interesting secret about the worms. Is said they need for special spoiling. They like the heat, dryness and cleanliness. The Chinese believed that the worms do not like the screaming, the smell of fried fish, pregnant women. They don’t let anybody smoke near any of the caterpillars or eating garlic.
Written by Ilona Kaszanyi
Reference: Hogy is van ez? (original title: How is it done?) p. 112-114.