by Aleksandra Apelić


January 01 2017

From caterpillar to valuable fabrics

The sense of touch, as the most subtle sense that we have, makes the touch of what we dress affect our mood and self-confidence. For these reasons mysterious, secretive, thin, delicate silk has a special place in life of every woman and provides a sense of uniqueness, irresistibility, beauty.

If we wonder how this luxury material was created, we must go a few centuries back.

Actually, silk that was once worth more than gold and other precious materials, which could only be worn by empresses and noblewomen originated from China. It is linked to the Chinese goddess of silk, Sji Lingshi, wife of the famous Yellow Emperor Huang Ti (around 2700 BC). Legends say that this woman was first credited for breeding silkworms and inventing looms for weaving silk. Allegedly, silkworm cocoon had fallen into her cup of tea, and when she removed it, she found the thread of exceptional quality.

History and real archaeological findings show that the production of silk in China started back in 5000 BC (Spindles for silk, remains of silk thread, parts of silk fabrics were found in several archaeological checkpoints along the Yangtze River). Sericulture was the main occupation of most women of ancient China, ever since the fifth century BC and onward through history. Techniques and process of sericulture were strictly guarded secrets controlled by the authorities of that time and the imperial court. The death penalty awaited anyone who would dare to reveal the secrets of sericulture or to smuggle eggs or cocoons of silkworms beyond the borders of China. Silk is woven deeply in Chinese culture. For example, it was a custom that the ruler wears a robe of white silk when going out in public, while the legitimate wife and son successor should wear a robe of yellow silk. Until the Qing dynasty ordinary people and the poor were not allowed to wear clothes made of silk. They could pay fees and taxes with silk fabric that they produced.


Silk triggered the development of the large trade route (Silk Road) and thus contributed to the development of remote civilizations through the exchange of scientific - technical achievements between different civilizations.

Author of text: Atelje Ibis


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