How silk is born

This is an amazing creature with hidden talent. In its time, it was valued in the same way as diamonds or gold, in the name of it revolutions broke out and whole continents united. And all because of the best fiber in the world. This is an incredible story about a tiny, but of great importance, silkworm.

Today we will visit the Italian factory, and at the same time we will recall the story and find out about the mysterious birth of silk.

Caterpillar of a silkworm.

Durable, thin and durable. Throughout human history, silk has always been a precious commodity. The history of silk began 5,000 years ago in ancient China.
Butterfly silkworm and cocoons. From one of them she appeared.

According to legend, the Yellow Emperor's wife was drinking tea in the garden when suddenly something fell from the branches of a mulberry tree. When the mysterious object was removed from the cup, it turned out that it was woven from a thin and pleasant to the touch thread.
Caterpillar of a silkworm.

Thus the secret of silk was revealed, and this oblong object was actually a cocoon of the silkworm.
Silk cocoons.

Shortly after the discovery, silk production spread throughout China until it became one of the key elements of the country's economy. Preserved tissue samples that are already 2-3 thousand years old.
Butterfly silkworm and cocoons.

Silkworm - 7 centimeter caterpillar. Creating a cocoon begins with the construction of the frame, which holds the whole structure.
Caterpillar of a silkworm.

The caterpillar makes fast, uniform movements with the head and puts the string in the form of a "figure eight".

She can repeat these movements up to 230,000 times, and the length of the silk thread can reach 1,000 meters. After 2-3 days the cocoon is ready, and a miracle begins to happen in the silk house. The caterpillar is in a cocoon for about 3 weeks and turns into a butterfly there.
The silkworm and eggs laid by the butterfly.

It all starts with tiny eggs, so small that even a mass of 2,000 pieces does not exceed 1 gram. Caterpillars no larger than a pinhead hatch from them. Over the next 3 days they will increase their weight 10,000 times. And they feed on the leaves of white click.

For the production of the finest silk, they should not eat anything else. The production of 1 silk dress requires about 2,000 cocoons, which means that the caterpillars need to eat more than 70 kg of leaves - almost 2 mulberry trees.

Cocoons need to have time to collect before the butterflies appear. If overexposed, the butterfly will gnaw through the cocoon and damage the silk. The cocoons are immersed in boiling water to kill the caterpillars and dissolve the protective layer.
The silkworm and eggs laid by the butterfly.

After that, the threads are woven together, and they are ready for the production of expensive and valuable material - silk. But not all cocoons end up in boiling water, because new butterflies are needed, which will lay tiny eggs, of which thousands of new caterpillars will appear ... The circle is closed.
Silk cocoons.

Modern butterflies are blind and do not know how to fly, this is the result of thousands of years of breeding. Each butterfly lives only a few days, and it is important for her to quickly find a partner. A few days after mating, the female lays eggs on the leaves of the mulberry tree.

What makes silk special? The thread is 8 times thinner than a human hair, it is very durable, because it is designed to protect the caterpillars from hungry insects, and it is absolutely water-repellent. Because of this, the fabric is soft and pleasant to the touch, but at the same time durable and durable.
Silk cocoons and silk threads.

In 200 BC The city of Xi'an became the starting point of the legendary trade route along which this valuable material was delivered to other countries.The Great Silk Road appeared, it ran to the west and stretched for almost 6,500 km.
Silk cocoons.

On all the way large and small cities appeared. Silk trade has become an important stage in the development of human civilization. The end point of the route was the city of Byzantium, today known as Istanbul. He became the gateway to Europe and the Roman Empire.
Silk cocoons. There are about 200 different types of silkworm in this Italian factory.

At that time, high prices for silk held because China jealously guarded its secret of producing this material. But in 550 AD. the Byzantine emperor ordered two monks to go to China and bring silkworm eggs, as well as seeds of the mulberry tree. With proper storage, eggs and seeds could be preserved for 2 years, which were required for return.
Hatching silkworm butterfly

So came the end of the Chinese monopoly on silk production. Over the next 1,000 years, silk production became an important part of the Arab and European economy.
Silk cocoons.

It has been 5 000 years, and the unique fabric is still in great demand.Today, the silk industry is also an important component of many economies, and millions of meters of silk are unwound from cocoons daily in huge factories.


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