The History of Silk in Two Minutes

Silk Unravel Process

According to history, the emperor Huangdi's wife, Xi Ling Shi, was the first person who discovered that silk could be used as a textile fiber in the 27th century BC. Once she was drinking tea under a mulberry tree, a cocoon fell into her teacup and began to unravel. The queen was very fascinated by the glittering silk thread. She researched and discovered the source of silk-the silkworm found in mulberry trees. Queen Xi Ling Shi soon developed the technology of sericulture and invented the reel and loom. For nearly three thousand years, the Chinese have maintained their advantage in silk production.

Silk was initially reserved for the royal family of China. Still, as Chinese culture spread, silk gradually spread geographically and socially. As a result, silk clothing began to reach the entire Asian region. Because of its advantages in texture and luster, silk has quickly become a popular luxury fabric in many parts of the world.

In the second half of the first millennium, the demand for this exotic fabric finally created the Silk Road - a a lucrative trade route. The Silk Road brought silk to the West. At the same time, through the silk trade, merchants also brought gold, silver, and wool to the East. The value of silk at one time was comparable to that of gold.

Japanese Women Cultivating Silkworm
By 200 AD, the sericulture industry spread to South Korea through Chinese immigrants, appeared in India, Japan, and Persia around 300 AD, and reached Europe through the Byzantine Empire around 550 AD. In the 7th century AD, the Arabs conquered Persia and obtained their gorgeous silk in the process. As the Arabs swept Africa, Sicily and Spain, the sericulture and silk industry spread. Andalusia was the main center of silk production in Europe in the 10th century.

However, by the 13th century, the Italian silk industry gained a dominant position and entered the silk history hall of fame. In the 17th century, France began to challenge Italy's leadership. The silk loom established in Lyon at that time is still known for its unique weaving beauty. In medieval Europe, silk was only used by nobles.

Industrialization in the nineteenth century led to the decline of the European silk industry. Driven by the opening of the Suez Canal, cheaper Japanese silk became popular. The emergence of man-made fibers is also one reason for the decline of the European silk industry. For example, nylon replaced traditional silk products. For example, the earliest stockings and parachutes were made of silk, later replaced by nylon fibers.

Japan Sericulture Industry

Japan became the world's largest producer of silk raw materials until China regained its status in the 1970s. Today, the world produces approximately 125,000 metric tons of silk a year. Nearly two-thirds of them are made in China.

Modern Silk Production in China

Producing high-quality silk (sericulture) is a long and complicated process, and details determine success or failure. For centuries, China has continuously improved silk production technology and has maintained investment, research and development in the latest manufacturing machinery.