Story of Silk

We think that people write the history; the insects also write it though! You may be surprised by these words, but the truth is, that the historiographers of a period of manhood were not the armies but the silkworms! Because the trade route created by their product, silk, formed the countries, the borders and immigrations; and defined the routes drawn by civilisations. The European merchants called the route they used to transport the silk, spice, porcelain and many other Eastern products to the West “The Silk Road”. In some sources, invention of silkworm is attributed to a queen. In 2600’s (BC), during the time of the Chinese Emperor Hoangiti, caterpillars that were seen eating mulberry leaves arose interest. The Emperor assigned the duty of studying these caterpillars to the queen, Shi-Ling-Shi. And she observed this amazing creature who makes a unique thread for years, and at last found the method to produce silk. From that time, sericulture became the major resource of China. The silkworm is blessed and the Queen Shi-Ling-Shi is given a new name:The Goddess of Silkworm...



For centuries, the silk culture remains a secret and as the secret craft of the Chinese. Garments and carpets woven from silk, the effect they leave on the skin, the glitter and the lustre creates a huge demand. Silk becomes the foremost one among the gifts sent from and to the kings. Thus, even death penalty is assessed to prevent cocoons, which became a source of wealth to cross the bamboo curtain.

They say that this craft of the Chinese was spread the world by the Turks. In 149 AD, the Emperor of Hotan, a province of Turkestan was preparing to marry a Chinese princess. The princess the bride was willing to give a present to her future husband. She hid seeds of silkworm in her long hair and took them outside China, to Hotan. We don’t know whether this story combined with a love story is true or not, but there are other legends on the subject. According to oneof these, in 555, the time of the Byzantine Emperor Lustinianos, two Nasturi priests acquired this craft working for years with perseverance and brought the cocoons and silkworms they hid in their sticks to Anatolia. Another belief is that 400 silk masters who were sent to Bursa by Mameluke Khan, Tomanbay, spread the silkworm in Anatolia. Whichever the truth is, it’s a fact that for a period the silkworm was embraced by Anatolia. Employing conventional cocoon methods, historical Koza Han (meaning Cocoon Hostel) in Bursa has maintained its silk-dependent existence till the recent years. A century ago, siik was woven on with handlooms all around Anatolia
Just as the silkworm, we also have a story for the silk. When they hatch out, silkworms look like a coil of brown or black feathers. In time the colour fades and bleaches. Also they moult and a soft skin comes out. These silkworms, which are as small as a pin live five ages throughout their six-weeks life. Each age lasts seven-eight days; then they sleep one-two days. Silkworms sleep four times in their short lives. They get mulberry leaves when they wake up. Each silkworm is called “alaldy” when they wake up. In the last “alaldy”, they start to cocoon. When the insect raises its head as if looking for something, which means the silk production is beginning. In the meantime branches of trees such as oak and pine are plunged in the earth and the silkworms try to find a place for themselves among these branches with a good rustling. The production is about to begin.


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