Home > Vlog > Jimactor’s China Vacation (Part 9)

Jimactor’s China Vacation (Part 9)

July 31, 2008



By Jimactor

Summary: We went to the Shanghai local restaurant with silk Embroidery Gallery Then went to famous Shanghai Silk Factory

Silk and its Stories:

Tea, porcelain and silk are the three commerical contributions the Chinese made to the world.  Legend has it that Luo Zhu, wife of Yellow Emperor, was taking a nap under a mulberry tree and a silk worm dropped into her tea cup,  she woke up to find out the silk thread dissolved by hot tea; and she saw the worms spinning thread on the tree.  Then she taught people how to raise silk worms and weave sillk.  Recent archeological discoveries prove that history of silk weaving dates back to the Neolithic Period some 4,000 years ago.  As early as 2,000 years ago, silk has become one of government monopolies for foreign trade.  To maintain the monopoly, for some centuries smuggling of silk worms carried death penalty, til one of the princesses of Tang Dynasty was married to a king in central Asia, she hid some silk eggs in her crown to avoid the check, thus brought the secret out of the country.

During the Han Dynasty, Emperor Wudi sent two envoys headed by Zhangqian to the west to seek an ally to defeat the Huns, silk among the gifts to the various kings or tribe leaders; the journey was military failure, the ally was never formed; but of great cultural success, it began the trade between Chinese and west countries.  Merchants traveled back and forth between Xi’an, capital of the empire, and Europe taking Chinese silk out and bringing many other goods into China.  This trade route was later to be known as “the Silk Road”.For centuries China has been taking the lead in production and variety. As early as in Tang Dynasty, silk was categorized into over 40 different kinds.  However, last century saw a total decline of Chinese silk industry; Italy, France and Japan were catching up with China, and at the beginning of this country, Japan has surpassed China as the number one in the world.

Since the People’s Republic, Chinese silk industry has been revived. And from 1970’s, China regained its place as the largest silk producing country.  At present, China produces 60% of world raw silk; it exports 90% of world total raw silk; and its export of silk fabrics accounts for 50% of world silk trade volume.  Up to 1992, all provinces except Tibet and Qinghai have set up silk industry; and there are 1506 silk factories nationwide which employ over 800,000 stuffs.

Coastal region is still the silk producing center in China.  Cities such as Suzhou, Wuxi and Hangzhou are top three silk producers.


It takes a silk cocoon approximately 35-40 days to complete its life cycle.  The four stages of the life cycle are: egg, worm, pupa and moth.  The eggs of silk cocoons are hatched at the temperature of 25-26 degree Celsius (77-79 Fahrenheit), the hatching takes about two days.  Once the worms come out, cocoon farmers will put tender and juicy mulberry leaves beside those worms and they immediately start eating; farmers have to supply leaves every couple of hours as the worms eat 24 hours non stop for 5 days.  In the meantime, the size of the worm grows extremely fast.  After 5 days the worm stop eating and sleep for 1-2 days, and they shed off the old skin.  Then they start eating again for another 5 days and go into the second dormancy and shed off old skin; and this will be repeated total four times, they the worm is 30 days old, it could be as long as 3 inches and then it reaches the stage of pupa.  Then it stop eating and start spinning thread to wrap itself inside; a worm raised in spring time could spin thread as long as 1200 meters while a summer worm only 800.  After two days, the pupa becomes moth and bites through the cocoon.  The moth only lives 2-4 days, it mates and lays 300-400 eggs.

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