Did a silk worm fall into a cup of tea more than 7,400 years ago: Part 1 of 2

January 3, 2018

I’ve often read about the Silk Road, but I was curious and wanted to know more about the history of silk.


Inside a Chinese silk factory

Silk has a long history in China. In 1984, silk fabric dating back more than five-thousand years was found in Henan Province.


Making cloth from a silkworm

According to legend, Lei Zu, the queen of China’s legendary Yellow Emperor, was drinking a cup of tea beneath a mulberry tree one day when a silkworm cocoon fell into her cup. Further investigation revealed that the unraveling fibers were light and tough, ripe for spinning.

And that is allegedly how China’s silk industry was born.


How silk is made

Then I learned that merchants from the Roman Empire sent ships by sea to China and traded directly with the Han Dynasty for silk. We’ll discover more about this in Part 2.

Continued in Part 2 on January 4, 2018

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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A brief history of silk: Part 1 of 2

August 27, 2013

I read an Associated Press piece by Mansur Mirovalev about silk’s so-called dark side where Uzbek children had to work and grow cocoons.


Silkworms in a Chinese silk factory

However, that’s not what this post is about.  I will say this. I didn’t see much that was wrong in Mirovalev’s piece about what was taking place in Uzbekistan. About a century ago, American children once worked in the fields alongside their parents. I see nothing wrong with that.

In fact, for most of history, children were just seen as smaller people and had to work just like adults did.


Worker makes silk cloth from a silkworm.

I’ve often read about the Silk Road, but I was curious and wanted to know more about the history of silk so I did some Google research and discovered that silk has a long history in China.

For example, in 1984, silk fabric dating back more than 5000 years was found in Henan Province.


How silk is made.

According to legend, Lei Zu, the queen of China’s legendary Yellow Emperor, was drinking a cup of tea beneath a mulberry tree one day when a silkworm cocoon fell into her cup. Further investigation revealed that the unraveling fibers were light and tough, ripe for spinning. Thus China’s silk industry was born.

What I didn’t know was that merchants from the Roman Empire sent ships by sea to China and traded directly with the Han Dynasty. It’s well known that China traded with India, the Persians and even Europe using a land route called the silk road across Asia. But this was the first time I heard of ships from Europe reaching China about two thousand years ago.

Continued on August 29, 2013 in A brief history of silk: Part 2

Discover A Millennia of History at a Silk Road Oasis

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Ming Dynasty (1368-1643 AD) – Part 2, 1/3

November 23, 2010

During the Ming Dynasty, great achievements were recorded in architecture, shipbuilding, porcelain making, and textile weaving.

Chinese products became known around the world for high quality and craftsmanship.

Admiral Zheng He took more than 10,000 copies of books to give away in the hope of spreading Chinese civilization and traditional Confucian ideas.

However, it was the silk and brocade that was most welcomed during the voyages of the great fleet.

Most of the Chinese silk that Zheng He took on his voyages came from southern China.

 

Of all the textile industries, silk weaving was number one and could be found in almost every large and small town in the south.

Shang Chuan, a Research Fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences says, “Textiles in China have a long history. By the Ming Dynasty… large workshops had appeared, although work was still done by hand.

“However, compared with the old family production model, large worships were superior as the products were quality guaranteed, all looked the same and were the same standard.”

The silk industry was the beginning of modern manufacturing. In fact, silk weaving had matured two thousand years before the Ming Dynasty during the Warring States Period and was widely traded with the known world during the Han Dynasty

It has been discovered that eighty years before British discovered what caused scurvy — a lack of vitamin C — Chinese sailors were not suffering from scurvy because the Chinese had developed porcelain containers to grow bean sprouts in while at sea.  Bean sprouts are a rich source of vitamin C.

Return to Ming Dynasty (1368-1643 AD) – Part 1, 3/3

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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