chapter ii

chapter ii


Wonder What These Women Have in Common?


And if I were to say that 25 kilos of something was worth $50 per kilo... I'm guessing you wouldn't expect I'd be talking about silk would you...?

After running an errand for work the other day to a place called The Silk Road I started thinking about silk: where it comes from, how it's made. Sort of like salt, it has a long history that because of its widespread presence in our lives we take for granted. But, when you think about it, these little silk worms are crafting threads long enough and strong enough to literally weave the world together. Gives new meaning to that phrase "the fabric of our lives"... which I think is about cotton but makes alot of sense here.

After about 5,000 years of "selective breeding" silk moths have lost the ability to fly, and therefore cannot survive without humans. Ironically though, thousands of people worldwide could not survive without the silkworm either.

Because of the desire to create something like this:

Or live somewhere like this:

People like this:

Have a job.

And this may have been a very Americanized version of examples but the history of silk stretches back to BC times... 2640 BC to be more specific when China produced all of the world's silk. Silk production eventually (after about 3000 years I read) made its way into Indian and then Japanese practices. It only made its way to Europe because of two Persian monks, naughty fellows, who smuggled silk moths back to the West in bamboo canes. Those moths were "the basis of the European silk industry for the next 1400 years." After a plague in France that wiped out alot of silkworms, Italy became the European go-to for silk.

To form an analogy: SILKWORMS: GRAPES : : SILK:WINE.

It works like that. Different effects produce different silks much the same as different grapes make different wines. Like how you (cork sniffers) can taste oak from the barrel wine fermented in, you (silk connoisseurs?) can see a difference in silks produced by a worm that ate oak leaves, Tussar, as opposed to say the leaves of a castor oil plant, Eri, or the mulberry tree which is a typical diet of a silkworm.

And in efforts to make my blog a green one, atleast for today, there is also a distinction between silks made without callously washing the worms from their cocoons but instead waiting for them to turn into moths before unraveling their cocoons for silk. It's called Ahimsa which in Sanskrit means "non-violence."

By the way, the silk industry is a multi-billion dollar one that can produce 100,000 tons of silk. That is equivalent to 600 billion cocoons. All I can think of to relate that statistic to is filling up an olympic size pool with hand-shelled sunflower seeds, but that analogy could be completely unfactual and most likely, is.


Amy said...

You should see the movie Silk with Keira Knightley. Its incredibly slow but interesting because it tells a lot of the history of the silk plague and smuggling silk worms from China. Pretty interesting stuff!

Mal said...

Can't wait :)


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