Silk is a luxurious fiber known for its superior softness, color intensity, warmth and fineness. We know how it’s made, that’s easy enough to find on YouTube. But how was it first discovered?

Legend has it that around 2700 B.C. the Chinese Princes Hsi-Ling was drinking tea under a mulberry tree when a cocoon fell into her cup. She observed that the tiny ball that was the cocoon unwound into a fine, smooth, delicate thread, and this is how silk was discovered. Other sources say that silk was not cultivated until 1500-1050 B.C., during the Shang Dynasty.1

In an attempt to commercialize this discovery, an up-and-coming sericulturist took a silk moth cocoon while the silkworm was in it, doing its thing and going through metamorphosis. They boiled it to kill the worm after it did all the hard work of creating a cocoon to protect itself from predators and harsh environments, but just before it matured enough to pierce through the fibers, maximizing the length of the precious filament. The sericulturist then unraveled the cocoon until it was an 800-meter long filament that could be spun into yarns and woven into super fine textiles. And at that moment, they probably said “Rad.”

That silkworm would never become a moth. But after that day, the world had silk.

  1. Anquetil, Jacques. Silk. Paris – New York: Flammarian. 1995. Print. ↩︎