It is well known that silk is discovered in China as one of the best materials for clothing - it has a look and feeling of richness that no other materials can match.
Legend has it that once there lived a father with his daughter, they had a magic horse, which could not only fly in the sky but also understand human language. One day, the father went out on business and did not come back for quite some time. The daughter made him a promise: If the horse could find her father, she would marry him. Finally her father came back with the horse, but he was shocked at his daughter's promise. Unwilling to let his daughter marry a horse, he killed the innocent horse. And then miracle happened! The horse's skin carried the girl flying away. They flew and flew, at last, they stopped on a tree, and the moment the girl touched the tree, she turned into a silkworm. Everyday, she spit long and thin silks. The silks just represented her feeling of missing him.
Another less romantic but more convincing explanation is that some ancient Chinese women found this wonderful silk by chance. When they were picking up fruits from the trees, they found a special kind of fruit, white but too hard to eat, so they boiled the fruit in hot water but they still could hardly eat it. At last, they lost their patience and began to beat them with big sticks. In this way, silks and silkworms were discovered. And the white hard fruit is a cocoon!
The silkworm moth was originally a native of China, and for about 30 centuries the gathering and weaving of silk was a secret process, known only to the Chinese. China successfully guarded the secret until 300AD, when Japan, and later India, penetrated the secrecy. An Indian monk who lived for a long time in China and who came to Rome was believed to have brought the technology of raising silkworms and silk production to Europe. This monk had been living in China for several years and knew the method of raising silkworms. The Emperor promised a high profit of the monk, the monk hid several cocoons in his cane and took it to Rome. Then, the technology of raising silkworms spread out. In ancient time, Silk was a valuable commodity and a major Chinese export.
Raising silkworms and unwinding their cocoons is known today as silk culture or sericulture. It takes approximately 25-28 days for a silkworm to grow old enough to spin a cocoon. Sericulture is a painstaking process that requires a great deal of human labor. About 1,000 meters of silk can be unwound from a single cocoon. To make a tie, about 111 cocoons are necessary. A woman’s blouse requires about 630 cocoons. This is why silk is a much prized and valuable fabric up to now.
Thousands of years have passed since China first discovered silkworms. Nowadays, silk, in some sense, is still some kind of luxury. Some countries are trying some new ways to get silk without silkworms. Hopefully, they can be successful. But whatever the result, nobody should forget that silk was, still is, and will always be our national treasure.