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tea under a
• A Chinese tale of the discovery of the silkworm's silk
was by an ancient empress Lei Zu, the wife of the
• She was drinking tea under a tree when a silk cocoon
fell into her tea and the hot tea loosened the long
strand of silk.
• As she picked it out and started to wrap the silk thread
around her finger, she slowly felt a warm sensation.
• When the silk ran out, she saw a small larva. She
realized that this caterpillar larva was the source of the
• She taught this to the people and it became
• Sericulture, or silk farming, is the rearing
of silkworms for the production of raw silk.
• Bombyx mori is the most widely used species of
silkworm and intensively studied.
• Stages of production of silk
• The silk moth lays eggs.
• The eggs hatch, and the larvae feed on mulberry
• When the silkworms are about 10,000 times heavier
than when they hatched, they are ready to spin a silk
• The silk is produced in two glands in the silkworm's
head and then forced out in liquid form through
openings called spinnerets.
• The silk solidifies when it comes in contact with the
• The silkworm spins approximately 1 mile of filament
and completely encloses itself in a cocoon in about two
or three days.
• Due to quality restrictions, the amount of usable silk in
each cocoon is small. As a result, 5500 silkworms are
required to produce 1 kg of silk.
• The silk at the cocoon stage is known as raw silk. One
thread consists of up to 48 individual silk filaments.
• Appearance of silkworm
• Silkworms begin as wormlike larvae with the three distinct body
parts of an insect. After spending time in a cocoon, the silkworm
morphs into a scaly, four-winged moth.
• After hatching from eggs, the worms moult four times before
spinning their cocoons.
• Silkworms eat the leaves of the mulberry tree or can exist on an
• Moriculture is the science of mulberry cultivation to rear
silkworm for silk production.
• Silkworms now depend on silk producers and laboratories to
propagate the species. In their domestication, the moths lost the
ability to fly, so wild populations no longer exist.
• When the silk worm forms a covering around itself by
secreting a protein , this is called the cocoon stage.
• It is at this time that the cocoons are delivered to the
factory by the farmer. These factories are called filature
• There they are sorted by color, size, shape and texture.
They usually range from white and yellow to grayish.
• After the sorting, the cocoons have to be boiled in
water, while they are still intact, for 5 minutes while
they are being turned gently.
• They are taken out of the water and a dissecting needle
is used to pick up the strands. A single strand that will
come off easily is wound around a pencil.
• It is unwound in one continuous thread, which are
collected into skeins. The process is called “reeling.”
• Such 3 to 10 or more fine strands are reeled together to
produce the desired diameter of raw silk. This is
known as "reeled silk."
• This silk is reeled into skeins, packed into small
bundles called books and then shipped to silk mills
around the world.
• This silk is woven into cloth and sarees. India is the
largest consumer of silk in the world. In India, silk is
worn by people as a symbol of royalty while attending
functions and during festivals.
• Let us watch the process of sericulture in detail.
The Story of Silk.flv
• “Silk Road” was the world’s longest trade route
between Eastern China and Mediterranean Sea. Silk,
the most valuable commodity in those times was
transported along this road.
• China was the first to start sericulture and the
cultivation of silk worm spread throughout China
• Today, China and India are the two main producers,
together manufacturing more than 60% of the world
production each year.
Mahatma Gandhi promoted Ahimsa silk or Peace silk for
those who prefer not to wear silk produced by killing
Let us do a quick recap!
What is sericulture?
What is moriculture?
What is reeling?
What is the “Silk Road”?
A few brain teasers for you…..
Which among the following is an animal
RIGHT ANSWER, GENIUS!
Silk is derived from
GOOD WORK !
The silkworm is (a) a caterpillar, (b) a
larva. Choose the correct option.
(iii) Both a and b
(iv) neither a nor b
Which of these is NOT a stage of a
THAT’S RIGHT !
Which term is NOT related with silk
WELL DONE !
The scientific name of the silkworm is
a. Morus alba
b. Bombyx mori
d. None of these
Did you know?
• A filament from a mulberry cocoon can be more than a
• Silk is stronger than an equivalent strand of steel.
• Find the different types of silk produced in India
• Do you think it is right to kill the silk worm for
silk production for humans? Write your views in