We can weave silk into textiles to make silk clothing. However, do you know how to get silk? In general, most of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity (sericulture). Silk fabric was invented in Ancient China in 3,500 BCE, and played an important role in the culture and economy for thousands of years. Silks were originally reserved for the Emperors of China. But, finally, silk spread throughout Asia.
The Silk Road, an ancient network of trade routes, stretched into the Middle East, North Africa, India and Europe approximately 1,000 years BCE, and it had already become an international trading item at this time. The techniques nonetheless spread to Korea by 200 BCE, and was produced in India by 300 CE, although Chinese emperors tried to keep knowledge of the production of silk secret.
No doubt, China is the largest producer of silk today. However, India is the largest user of silk today. Brides traditionally wear silk saris during marriage ceremonies in some parts of India. People always wear silk to festive occasions in India.
Silk, a comfortable and useful fabric, is very popular in Roman Empire. More and more people wearing silk, although the emperor Tiberius passed laws forbidding men to wear silk garments because it was simply too luxurious and sophisticated.
By the 1200s CE, Italian silk had a reputation as truly luxurious fabric. Silk, made in the province of Como, became the most valuable in the world. Italy was the third largest producer in the world, bested only by China and Japan by the late 19th century.
As early as the 1600s when American colonists tried their hand at producing silk, silk production came to the Americas. European workers in Paterson, New Jersey brought silk production there in the 19th century, which makes Paterson a center of U.S. production of silk.
Silk contains amino acid which allows silk fibers to pack tightly and strongly. Thus silk is strong. As interceded hydrogen bonds can resist even most acids, silk has tensile strength. However, sulfuric acid will dissolve silk. Silk is widely used to make blanket filling, parachutes, and even bicycle tires because of its wonderful properties.
How to get silk
- Silk moths laying eggs on special paper.
- Larvae hatch out of their eggs.
- The larvae eat mulberry leaves and grow bigger and bigger.
- The larvae spin their cocoons in two or three days.
- Collect silk by killing the larva in heated water.