The Mystery of Silk

The beginnings of the silk industry
are the stuff of myth and legend…

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The Mystery of Silk

It was Lady Hsi-Ling-Shih, the Goddess of Silk, wife of the mythical Yellow Emperor, who is believed to have developed the process of unraveling the thread from the cocoon of the silk worm, and to have begun the first silk-cultivation farms in China. Artifacts dated to between 2600 and 2300 BC associated with "sericulture" (the raising of silkworms to obtain raw silk) have been found along the Yellow River in northern China. Still others have been found, among them fabric fragments and spinning tools, suggesting that the origins of sericulture may be even earlier.

For thousands of years, the process was a closely guarded secret that was finally brought out of China and into Korea by immigrants. It is said that around 550 AD two monks made their way to Byzantine Emperor Justinian’s court with silkworm eggs hidden in bamboo staves. The eggs were hatched, and the secret was out.

Silk quickly became a much sought after commodity as its luxury spread westward. The famed Silk Roads, trading routes that grew between the great silk producing centers in China, through Persia and India to the Mediterranean, were largely responsible for the growth of international trade and the spread of culture and knowledge.

About 35 countries now produce raw silk. China still produces half of the world’s supply, while Japan is the second largest producer. Unfortunately, not all silk manufacturers enforce socially responsible practices. Cuddledown researches and ensures that all of the silk mills we import from are socially responsible and enforce fair working conduct.

Silk is one of the most versatile fabrics currently in production. Silk fibers are considered the strongest of all natural fibers. Due to its capacity for absorbing moisture, it is cool in summer and warm in winter. Silk is used in everything from fine apparel and home furnishings to medical sutures and prosthetic arteries. It can be dyed a rainbow of deep, vibrant colors, and floats over the body with a shine and shimmer all its own.

Silk has long been associated with the highest luxury – and it is no wonder. For sheer elegance, drape, comfort and style, there is absolutely nothing to compare with the mysterious allure of silk.

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