What Is Silk Made Of?

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From Worm to silk.

Silkworm cocoons are made up of single filament which, if carefully unwound, can be as long as 800m. This can be woven to produce material which is soft, lightweight, strong, durable, and ideal for dyeing. However, the raising of silkworms required constant care and feeding during the six-week breeding period between the hatching of silkworm eggs and the spinning of the cocoons.

During 30 days when the very delicate worms were growing to full size, they required constant attention and time consuming. They need to be fed several times a day on fresh mulberry leaves. At the right time, the fully grown worms were placed either on an inclined frame or a bigger tray so that they could begin spinning their cocoons.

Finally, just before the silkworm eggs were ready to hack, the silk had to be reeled from the cocoons. If there were insufficient reeling machine or labour to do the silk. The moths have to be killed by boiling or smoking.

Originally, cloth making was done without tools simply by rolling the raw fibres between the hands and thigh.

However, by the least 5000 BCE, the Chinese was beginning to use spindle whorls.

Later, under the Shang dynasty, simple hand operated spinning wheels began to appear.

For centuries, Lanzhou was an important city because it was on a great trade route, known as the silk road. Merchants used to take beautiful silk cloth made in China westwards on the long journey to Europe. In those days, Lanzhou lay near the boarders of China (yellow river), and it was the last major Chinese city traveler silk road economic belt countries saw before they headed out across the deserts to the west.

In the year 1839-1842, the opium war between China and Britain. Chinese’s defeat resulted in the cession of Hong Kong to Britain and the forcible opening of its port to European merchants.

By the time of the opium war, China was losing its position as one of the world’s leading industrial nations. And European had acquired the remedies of silk and porcelain manufacture, reducing demand for Chinese’s silk. Nevertheless, Chinese firms successfully completed with foreign rivals in many industries, notably cotton textiles.Even now, Chinese’s textiles are still biggest exporter.

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