What Is Silkworm In China?

Silkworms have been an important part of Chinese culture for thousands of years. In fact, the discovery of silk production is said to have occurred in China around 5,000 years ago, and the silkworm has become an important symbol in Chinese culture since then. The silkworm symbolizes a variety of things in China, including prosperity, perseverance, and transformation.

what is the silkworm?

The tamed silk moth, commonly known as the Bombyx mori, produces the silkworm as its larva or caterpillar. It is a tiny, worm-like organism that weaves a silk cocoon while eating mulberry tree leaves. The silkworm is a domesticated insect, which means that people have been breeding and raising it for its capacity to create silk for thousands of years.

The female silk moth lays eggs on a bed of paper or cloth that has been specifically prepared to start the unusual life cycle of silkworms. The eggs eventually hatch into millimeter-long silkworms after a few days. The silkworms are fed mulberry leaves at this stage and grow quickly, moulting or shedding their skin multiple times over the course of four to six weeks.

The silkworms start spinning their cocoons once they have grown to their full size. They accomplish this by secreting a protein known as fibroin from two glands on their body, which they subsequently use to wrap themselves in a cocoon. A single, continuous silk thread up to 900 metres long is used to create this cocoon.

Once the silkworm has finished building its cocoon, it moves on to the pupal stage, where it goes through a transformation and becomes an adult moth. Although having wings, the adult silk moth cannot fly because it has been carefully developed to have a larger body and smaller wings. Instead, to complete the silkworm life cycle, the adult moth spends the majority of its short life mating and laying eggs.

China has been domesticating silkworms for at least 5,000 years, and the nation’s economy and culture have depended heavily on the manufacturing of silk. Silk manufacture was maintained a highly guarded secret by the ancient Chinese for many years, and it wasn’t until the Silk Road trade routes were formed that silk started to travel to other areas of the world.

The main producers of silk now are China, India, and Thailand. Silk production is still a substantial industry throughout most of the world. Unfortunately, the usage of synthetic fibres has lessened the need for natural silk and diminished the significance of the silkworm in human culture.

Despite this, the silkworm is still an intriguing animal and a representation of both traditional and contemporary China. The creation of silk is a labor-intensive, intricate process that needs patience and a lot of talent, from raising the silkworms to weaving the finished cloth. As a result, silk continues to be regarded as a luxury good and a symbol of wealth and rank.

The silkworm has contributed significantly to science and medicine in addition to its economic importance. A protein fibre known as silk has special qualities like strength, flexibility, and biodegradability. In addition to researching novel medical materials and medication delivery techniques, researchers are looking into new uses for silk.

What did the Chinese call silkworms?

The Chinese call silkworms “Can Sang” (蚕桑) which can be translated to “mulberry silkworm” or simply “silk worm”. The Chinese have been breeding and raising silkworms for thousands of years, and silk production has been an essential part of their economy and culture. The Chinese were the first to discover the process of silk production, and it became an important commodity that was traded along the ancient Silk Road trade routes. Today, silk is still an important product in China, and the silkworm continues to be an important symbol of Chinese culture and history.

types of silkworm

There are several different types of silkworms, each with their own unique characteristics and uses. Here are some of the most common types of silkworms:

Mulberry silkworm (Bombyx mori): This is the most common type of silkworm and is responsible for the vast majority of silk production worldwide. The larvae of the mulberry silkworm feed exclusively on the leaves of the mulberry tree, which is why they are also called the “mulberry silkworm”.

Tasar silkworm (Antheraea mylitta): Tasar silkworms are native to India and are used to produce a type of wild silk called “tussar” or “tassar” silk. The larvae of the tasar silkworm feed on the leaves of several different tree species, including oak, arjun, and sal.

Muga silkworm (Antheraea assamensis): Muga silkworms are native to Assam, a state in northeastern India, and are used to produce a type of silk called “muga” silk. The larvae of the muga silkworm feed on the leaves of the som tree.

Eri silkworm (Samia cynthia ricini): Eri silkworms are native to China and India and are used to produce a type of silk called “eri” or “endi” silk. The larvae of the eri silkworm feed on the leaves of several different tree species, including castor and tapioca.

Oak silkworm (Antheraea proylei): Oak silkworms are native to Southeast Asia and are used to produce a type of silk called “eri” silk. The larvae of the oak silkworm feed on the leaves of oak trees.

Each of these silkworms has its own unique characteristics and is suited for different types of silk production. Mulberry silkworms, for example, produce the finest and highest-quality silk, while tasar and muga silkworms produce a coarser and more textured silk. Eri silkworms produce a silk that is naturally beige or brown in color and has a woolly texture, while oak silkworms produce a silk that is similar to tasar silk but has a more greenish-yellow color.

what is mulberry silkworm?

The mulberry silkworm (Bombyx mori) is the most commonly used silkworm for silk production. This species of silkworm is native to China, and its larvae feed exclusively on the leaves of the mulberry tree, which is why it is also called the “mulberry silkworm”. The larvae of the mulberry silkworm spin a cocoon made of a single strand of silk that can measure up to 900 meters (3,000 feet) in length.

Mulberry silk is highly valued for its fine texture, luster, and durability. It is used to make a variety of high-end silk products, such as silk scarves, ties, and luxury bedding. The process of harvesting silk from the mulberry silkworm involves several steps, including harvesting the cocoons, killing the pupae inside the cocoons, and then unraveling the silk thread from the cocoons. The silk thread is then treated and spun into silk yarn, which is used to create various silk products.

The breeding and raising of mulberry silkworms for silk production has a long history in China, dating back to ancient times. It was considered a valuable commodity and was traded along the ancient Silk Road trade routes that connected China to the Mediterranean. Today, mulberry silk remains a highly prized and valuable product, and China continues to be the world’s leading producer of silk.

what is the food of silkworm?

The food of silkworms depends on the species of the silkworm. The most commonly used silkworm for silk production, the mulberry silkworm (Bombyx mori), feeds exclusively on the leaves of the mulberry tree. The leaves of the mulberry tree are the primary source of nutrition for the larvae of the mulberry silkworm, and the quality of the leaves can have a significant impact on the quality of the silk produced.

Other types of silkworms, such as the tasar silkworm (Antheraea mylitta), the muga silkworm (Antheraea assamensis), and the eri silkworm (Samia cynthia ricini), feed on the leaves of different tree species. Tasar silkworms feed on the leaves of oak, arjun, and sal trees, while muga silkworms feed on the leaves of the som tree. Eri silkworms, on the other hand, feed on the leaves of several different tree species, including castor and tapioca.

It is important to note that the quality of the food that silkworms eat can have a significant impact on the quality of the silk produced. In order to produce high-quality silk, it is essential to provide silkworms with a consistent and nutritious diet. Farmers who raise silkworms for silk production often carefully control the quality and quantity of the food they provide to their silkworms to ensure optimal conditions for silk production.

silkworm eggs

Silkworm eggs are the first stage in the life cycle of a silkworm. They are tiny, round, and have a diameter of about 1-1.5 mm. Silkworm eggs are usually laid by adult female moths, which lay them in batches of 300-500 eggs at a time. The eggs are typically laid on specially prepared paper or cloth, which is used to collect them and then incubate them under controlled conditions.

The incubation period for silkworm eggs is typically between 10-14 days, depending on the temperature and humidity conditions. During this time, the eggs develop and eventually hatch into tiny silkworm larvae, also known as caterpillars.

Silkworm eggs are an essential part of the silk production process, as they are the starting point for the entire silkworm life cycle. Farmers who raise silkworms for silk production carefully manage the incubation of the eggs to ensure optimal conditions for hatching and subsequent growth and development of the larvae. They must also ensure that the eggs are free from diseases and pests that can affect the health of the silkworms and the quality of the silk they produce.

silkworm cocoons

Silkworm cocoons are the protective coverings spun by silkworm larvae during the pupal stage of their life cycle. The cocoons are made from a single thread of silk that can be up to 900 meters (3,000 feet) long, and the larvae spin the cocoon around themselves as a protective covering while they undergo metamorphosis.

Silkworm cocoons are an important part of the silk production process, as they are the source of the silk fibers used to make silk fabric. After the silkworm has completed its metamorphosis and become an adult moth, the cocoon can be processed to obtain the silk fibers. In order to obtain the silk fibers, the cocoon is first boiled in water to kill the pupa inside and dissolve the sericin, a sticky substance that holds the cocoon together. The cocoon is then unwound to obtain the long, continuous silk fiber, which can be spun into silk thread and woven into silk fabric.

There are several factors that can affect the quality of the silk produced from silkworm cocoons, including the quality of the silk thread used to spin the cocoon, the health and nutrition of the silkworm larvae, and the processing methods used to obtain the silk fibers. Farmers who raise silkworms for silk production carefully manage all of these factors to ensure that the silk they produce is of the highest quality possible.

Overall, silkworm cocoons are a critical component of the silk production process, and the quality of the silk produced depends on the quality of the cocoons and the care taken to process them.

what is chrysalis in silkworm?

Chrysalis is the pupal stage of the silkworm life cycle. After the silkworm has gone through its five instars (stages of growth), it spins a cocoon made of a single silk thread that can be up to 900 meters (3,000 feet) long. The cocoon protects the silkworm as it transforms into a pupa, or chrysalis, which is the stage between the larval and adult stages.

During the pupal stage, the silkworm undergoes metamorphosis, transforming from a larva into an adult moth. Inside the cocoon, the silkworm secretes enzymes that break down the proteins in its larval body, allowing it to reorganize its tissues and develop the structures and organs it will need as an adult moth.

The length of the pupal stage depends on several factors, including temperature and humidity. Typically, the pupal stage lasts for about 10-14 days, after which the adult moth emerges from the cocoon. However, in the case of silk production, the pupa is usually killed before it can emerge from the cocoon, as the emerging moth would damage the silk thread.

The chrysalis stage is an essential part of the silkworm life cycle, as it allows the silkworm to undergo the metamorphosis necessary to transform into an adult moth. Without this stage, the silkworm would not be able to complete its life cycle and produce silk.

life history of silk moth-silkworm life cycle

The life history of the silk moth, also known as the silkworm moth, goes through several stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

Egg: The female silk moth lays about 300-500 eggs at a time, usually on a prepared surface, such as a piece of paper or cloth. The eggs hatch into tiny silkworm larvae, also known as caterpillars, within 10-14 days.

Larva: The larval stage lasts about four to six weeks, during which time the silkworm larvae feed exclusively on mulberry leaves. The silkworm larvae molt four times, shedding their skin as they grow and develop.

Pupa: After the final molt, the silkworm spins a cocoon made of a single silk thread that can be up to 900 meters (3,000 feet) long. The cocoon protects the silkworm as it transforms into a pupa, or chrysalis, which is the stage between the larval and adult stages. During this stage, the silkworm undergoes metamorphosis, transforming from a larva into an adult moth.

Adult: After 10-14 days, the adult silk moth emerges from the cocoon. The moth has a wingspan of about 3-4 cm and is typically white or light brown in color. The adult moth does not have functional mouthparts and does not feed, living for only a few days to mate and lay eggs.

In the case of silk production, the pupal stage is usually interrupted before the adult moth emerges from the cocoon. The cocoon is boiled to kill the pupa and dissolve the sericin, a sticky substance that holds the cocoon together, allowing the silk fibers to be harvested and spun into silk thread.

Overall, the life history of the silk moth is fascinating and essential to the production of silk, a valuable fabric that has been prized for thousands of years. The careful management of the silk moth life cycle by farmers and silk producers is essential to ensuring the quality and sustainability of this valuable industry.

what is the lifespan of a silkworm?

The lifespan of a silkworm depends on various factors such as temperature, humidity, and quality of food. Generally, the silkworm undergoes four different stages in its life cycle, namely egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The adult silk moth typically lives for only a few days and does not feed, while the larval stage lasts for around 4-6 weeks. During this stage, the silkworm feeds on mulberry leaves and molts four times before entering the pupal stage. The pupal stage lasts for about two weeks, after which the adult silk moth emerges from the cocoon.

Overall, the lifespan of a silkworm from egg to adult moth is approximately 6-8 weeks. However, the lifespan of the silkworm can be extended if the optimal conditions for their growth and development are provided. For example, if the temperature and humidity are maintained within the appropriate range, and the silkworms are provided with high-quality food, they can grow faster and become healthier, which may increase their lifespan. Conversely, if the silkworms are exposed to unfavorable conditions, such as extreme temperatures or humidity, or low-quality food, their lifespan may be reduced, and they may become more susceptible to disease or other health problems.

In summary, the lifespan of a silkworm is relatively short, lasting only a few weeks, but it can be influenced by various factors such as temperature, humidity, and food quality. The careful management of the silkworms by farmers and silk producers is essential to ensure their health and well-being, as well as the quality and sustainability of the silk production industry.

why are silkworms killed to make silk?

Silkworms are killed to make silk because the process of harvesting silk involves the use of the cocoon that the silkworm spins around itself. In order to obtain a long, continuous silk fiber, the cocoon is typically harvested before the silkworm pupates and transforms into an adult moth. If the silkworm is allowed to transform into a moth and emerge from the cocoon, it will break the silk fibers and make them unusable for commercial purposes.

To prevent this from happening, the traditional method of silk production involves boiling the cocoons with the silkworms inside, which kills the silkworms and allows the silk fibers to be harvested intact. This process is called sericulture and has been practiced for thousands of years in many parts of the world, including China, Japan, India, and Europe.

While this method of silk production has been effective in producing high-quality silk, it has also been criticized for its cruelty to animals. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in alternative methods of silk production that do not involve killing silkworms. These methods include non-violent or ethical silk production, where the silk is harvested after the silkworms have completed their natural life cycle and transformed into moths.

Overall, while the traditional method of silk production involves killing silkworms, there are now alternative methods available that allow for the production of silk without causing harm to animals.

how to produce silk without killing silkworms

Producing silk without killing silkworms is a process that involves harvesting the silk after the silkworm has completed its metamorphosis into a moth and has emerged from its cocoon. This method is called non-violent or ethical silk production and is gaining popularity as a more humane and sustainable alternative to traditional silk production methods.

The process of producing non-violent silk typically involves the following steps:

Allowing the silkworms to complete their life cycle: The first step in producing non-violent silk is to allow the silkworms to complete their life cycle naturally. This means allowing the larvae to spin their cocoons, enter the pupal stage, and transform into adult moths. In traditional silk production, the cocoons are usually boiled or exposed to heat to kill the silkworms inside and prevent them from damaging the silk fibers.

Harvesting the cocoons after the moths emerge: Once the adult moths have emerged from their cocoons, the cocoons can be carefully harvested without harming the silk fibers. This can be done by cutting the silk fibers with a pair of scissors or a sharp blade.

Sorting and cleaning the silk fibers: After harvesting, the silk fibers are sorted and cleaned to remove any debris or impurities. The fibers are then spun into yarn or thread using traditional spinning techniques.

Non-violent silk production offers several benefits over traditional silk production methods. It is more humane since it does not involve killing silkworms, and it is more sustainable since it allows the silkworms to complete their natural life cycle and reproduce. Non-violent silk production also produces a higher quality silk since the fibers are not damaged by the heat used to kill the silkworms.

In conclusion, producing silk without killing silkworms is possible through non-violent or ethical silk production methods that allow the silkworms to complete their natural life cycle. This approach is gaining popularity as a more humane and sustainable alternative to traditional silk production methods and can help support the growth of the silk industry while also promoting animal welfare.

what are silkworms used for

Silkworms have been used for thousands of years to produce silk, a luxurious and highly valued fabric. The silk produced by silkworms is used to make a variety of products, including clothing, bedding, drapes, and upholstery.

In addition to silk production, silkworms are also used for scientific research. They have been used to study topics such as genetics, development, and behavior. Silkworms are particularly useful for studying these topics because they are easy to rear and have a short life cycle.

Silkworms are also used in some traditional medicines. In Chinese medicine, for example, silkworms are used to treat conditions such as dry cough and bronchitis.

Finally, silkworms are used as a food source in some cultures. In parts of Asia, silkworm pupae are considered a delicacy and are often fried or boiled and served as a snack or part of a meal.

Overall, silkworms are primarily used for silk production, but they also have other uses in scientific research, traditional medicine, and as a food source in some cultures.

who founded silkworm

The cultivation of silkworms and the production of silk is believed to have originated in ancient China over 5,000 years ago.

According to Chinese legend, the discovery of silk production is attributed to a woman named Lady Hsi-Ling-Shih, who is said to have discovered the secret of silk while drinking tea under a mulberry tree. She observed silkworms spinning cocoons and began to experiment with the fibers that made up the cocoons, eventually discovering how to spin them into silk thread.

Legend has it that the first person to invent sericulture and silk reeling was the consort of Yellow Emperor Xuanyuan, Lady Leizu, also known as Lei-Tsu. She accidentally discovered silkworms eating mulberry leaves on a mulberry tree and spinning cocoons. She then picked the cocoons, extracted the silk and wove it into silk clothes, and taught the method of breeding silkworms and reeling silk to others. She was revered as the goddess of silk by later generations.

This story highlights that China was the first country to raise silkworms and reel silk. Oracle bone inscriptions from the Shang Dynasty recorded words for silkworms, mulberry, silk, and silk fabrics, indicating that the development of sericulture and silk weaving was widespread at that time. Jade silkworms have been unearthed in Dasikong Village, Anyang, Henan Province, and Subu Village, Yidu, Shandong Province. Bronze vessels from the Xia and Shang dynasties often show traces of plain weave silk fabrics and diamond patterns. Before the Shang Dynasty, the ancestors of the Chinese people used the natural resources of mulberry trees to raise silkworms and weave silk fabrics, but in very small quantities. With the progress of human civilization and the increasing need for clothing, people began to cultivate mulberry trees to expand the scale of sericulture, providing more clothing materials. By the Zhou Dynasty, the breeding of domesticated silkworms had become widespread in the Yellow River Basin.

what does silkworm symbolize in Chinese culture?

In Chinese culture, silkworms hold great significance and symbolism. Here are a few examples:

Wealth and Prosperity: Silk was considered a luxury item in ancient China and was often used as a currency. The ability to produce silk was a sign of wealth and prosperity, and silkworms were seen as a symbol of abundance.

Transformation and Renewal: The life cycle of a silkworm, from egg to cocoon to moth, was seen as a metaphor for transformation and renewal. It was believed that the process of creating silk represented the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

Hard Work and Perseverance: The process of raising silkworms and harvesting their silk is a labor-intensive process that requires a great deal of patience and hard work. As such, silkworms are often seen as a symbol of perseverance and dedication.

Feminine Beauty and Grace: Silk was traditionally associated with feminine beauty and grace, and silkworms were often used as a symbol of these qualities. In ancient Chinese poetry and literature, silk and silkworms were often used to describe the elegance and beauty of women.

Selfless teachers and great figures: Due to the selfless dedication of the silkworm, which is also a symbol of diligence, professionalism, and wisdom, we often use the silkworm to describe teachers and those great figures who devote their lives to teaching and contributing to the country without seeking any return.

Overall, silkworms and the silk they produce have played a significant role in Chinese culture for thousands of years, and their symbolism has remained important to this day.

Who is the Chinese silkworm god?

There are four major silk worm deities in Chinese mythology: Leizu, Matou Niangniang,  Qingyi Shen and Cancong.


Leizu, commonly known as the first silk worm, was the wife of the Yellow Emperor. She taught people how to raise silk worms and make silk clothing, and was later worshipped as the “first silk worm” deity.

However, prior to Leizu, there were other silk worm deities, such as Wanyu Furen and Yushi Gongzhu, who were worshipped during the Han dynasty. Some also believed that silk worms were created by Fuxi, and that they corresponded to the Tianji constellation. In addition, there were also folk deities such as Cengcun Shi, Qingyi Shen, Matou Niang, Can Gu, Can Mu, Can Nu, and Mamian Pusa.

Therefore, the first silk worm was just one type of silk worm deity, and was mostly worshipped during national ceremonies. Folk deities, on the other hand, varied depending on the region, although Matou Niang was a relatively common silk worm deity.

Matou Niangniang

Matou Niangniang was worshipped for good silk worm harvests. Her image is that of a woman wearing a horse skin, but she is not depicted with a horse’s head as her name suggests. The earliest known story about her comes from the Three Kingdoms period, recorded in Zhang Yan’s “Antiquity of the Silk Worm Horse”, which is now lost. Her legend is also recorded in Gan Bao’s “In Search of the Supernatural”, and the earliest form of her story can be seen in the “Classic of Mountains and Seas”, which mentions a woman who spins silk from the silk trees.

Qingyi Shen

Qingyi Shen is a male silk worm deity worshipped in Sichuan. According to the “Sanjiao Yuanliu Soushen Daquan”, Qingyi Shen is also known as Cengcun Shi. Legend has it that Cengcun Shi declared himself the king of Shu and taught people how to raise silk worms. He also made thousands of golden silk worms every year, which he distributed to the people. In return, the people had to play the guqin and return the silk worms to the king when they were done. Some believe that “cengcun” originally referred to a silk worm society, and that “cengcun shi” refers to a silk worm deity who wears green clothes, hence the name “Qingyi Shen”.


Cancong, also known as Cancongshi, is a legendary figure in ancient Chinese mythology and the God of Silkworms. He was the first king of the Shu kingdom and a silk expert. It is said that his eyes protruded forward like those of a crab, and his hair was styled into a “chuiji” at the back of his head. He wore his clothes crossed to the left. He originally lived in the Shishu Cave in Minshan (now Beidexi, Maoxian County, Sichuan Province). Later, Cancong led his tribe to Chengdu to pursue his sericulture career.

What is the silkworm Chinese story?

In ancient times, there were many clans and tribes living on the vast land of China. One of the tribes, called the Huangdi tribe, defeated another tribe called the Jiuli tribe. To celebrate their victory, the leader of the Huangdi tribe, Huangdi, held a grand celebration.

As people were rejoicing and celebrating their victory, they suddenly saw a beautiful girl floating down from the sky with a horse skin stuck to her body. She held two bundles of silk in her hands, one was as yellow as gold, and the other was as white as silver, which she presented to Huangdi. This girl who offered the silk was the legendary “Silkworm Goddess”. Huangdi greatly admired this rare treasure and had it woven into silk fabric.

The woven silk was light and soft, like the clouds in the sky and the flowing water in the stream. The original linen cloth could not compare with it at all. Huangdi’s consort, Leizu, personally raised silkworms and taught the people how to raise them.

Who are the ancestors of silkworms

The silkworm horse, also known as the ancestor of silkworms in ancient Chinese mythology, comes from Gan Bao’s “In Search of the Supernatural: The Silkworm Woman”. Legend has it that in ancient times, a man was abducted, leaving only his wife, daughter, and a horse. In desperation, the mother said, “If someone can rescue my husband, I will marry my daughter to him.”

The horse heard this and ran away. A few days later, the father returned on horseback.

The mother told him everything, but he did not agree. The horse then roared, and the father killed the horse. The horse skin suddenly rolled up the girl and flew away, landing on a mulberry tree. The girl turned into a silkworm, and the horse skin became a cocoon.

silkworm in feng shui

In feng shui, silkworms are often associated with the element of earth and symbolize growth, transformation, and prosperity. They are believed to bring good luck, wealth, and abundance to the home or workplace.

Silkworms are often raised in feng shui to help activate the energy of the earth element, which is said to nourish and stabilize the energy of the environment. They can be placed in a designated area of the home or office, such as the southeast corner (which is associated with wealth and abundance), to help enhance the energy flow and attract positive energy.

Silkworms are also considered a symbol of transformation and growth, as they undergo a metamorphosis from a tiny egg to a caterpillar and then a cocoon, before emerging as a beautiful butterfly or moth. This transformational quality is thought to be beneficial for those seeking personal growth and development, and for those who want to overcome obstacles or challenges in their lives.

Overall, silkworms are seen as a positive and auspicious symbol in feng shui, and can be used to enhance the energy of the environment and promote growth, transformation, and prosperity.

silkworm in Yin and Yang

In Chinese philosophy, the concept of yin and yang represents two complementary and interconnected forces that exist in all things. Yin represents the feminine, passive, dark, and receptive aspects of nature, while yang represents the masculine, active, light, and creative aspects of nature.

The silkworm, which represents transformation and growth, can be seen as embodying both yin and yang energies. As a caterpillar, it is yin in nature, representing the passive and receptive aspects of growth, as it spends most of its time eating and growing. As it transforms into a cocoon and eventually emerges as a moth, it embodies the yang energy of transformation, creativity, and action.

In addition, silk, which is produced by the silkworm, is often associated with yin energy due to its smooth, soft, and gentle qualities. However, the process of silk production also requires hard work, effort, and perseverance, which are qualities associated with yang energy.

Overall, the silkworm can be seen as a symbol of the balance between yin and yang energies, as it embodies both the passive and active aspects of growth and transformation.

Silkworms in Chinese Mythology

Silkworms play an important role in Chinese mythology, particularly in the legend of the Yellow Emperor (Huangdi) and the discovery of silk. According to the legend, the Yellow Emperor’s wife, Lady Leizu, discovered the silkworm and invented the silk loom, and thus is credited with the invention of silk production.

Another mythological figure associated with silkworms is the goddess Xihe, who is believed to have been in charge of the mulberry trees that the silkworms feed on. In some legends, she is also credited with the creation of silk.

In addition, there is a myth about a man named Cangjie, who was said to have invented the Chinese writing system after observing the patterns made by silkworms. According to the legend, he was inspired by the silkworm’s ability to spin a continuous thread and created characters based on their shape and form.

Silkworms also feature in various other Chinese myths and legends, often as a symbol of transformation and rebirth. They are associated with the cycle of life and death, as well as the natural world and the changing of the seasons.

silkworm in the five elements

In traditional Chinese philosophy, the Five Elements theory (五行 wǔ xíng) is used to understand the relationship and interaction between different phenomena in the universe. The Five Elements are Wood (木 mù), Fire (火 huǒ), Earth (土 tǔ), Metal (金 jīn), and Water (水 shuǐ).

In this context, the silkworm is associated with the element of Fire, as it is believed to transform the dry mulberry leaves into silk through a process of intense heat. The Fire element is also associated with passion, creativity, and transformation, which further reinforces the symbolism of the silkworm as a transformative force.

In some interpretations, the silkworm is also associated with the element of Earth, as it feeds on the leaves of the mulberry tree, which grows from the soil. The Earth element is associated with nourishment, stability, and groundedness, which reflects the silkworm’s dependence on the earth for sustenance.

Overall, the silkworm’s association with the elements of Fire and Earth highlights its transformative and nourishing qualities, making it a significant symbol in Chinese culture and mythology.

Silkworms in Chinese Medicine

Silkworm is a commonly used ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The dried silkworm is called “Jiang Can” in Chinese and has been used in TCM for over 2,000 years.

In TCM, silkworm is believed to have a cooling and detoxifying effect on the body. It is used to treat various conditions such as high fever, convulsions, and skin infections. Silkworm is also thought to be beneficial for cardiovascular health and can help regulate blood flow and blood pressure.

Silkworm is often used in combination with other herbs in TCM prescriptions, and its use should be monitored by a qualified TCM practitioner. While it is generally considered safe, some people may be allergic to silkworm or experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. As with any TCM herb, it is important to consult with a qualified practitioner before using silkworm for medicinal purposes.

Silkworms in Chinese food

Silkworms have been eaten in some parts of China for centuries, particularly in the southwestern regions such as Yunnan, Guizhou, and Sichuan. In these areas, silkworms are considered a delicacy and can be found in various dishes, including soups, stews, and stir-fries.

Silkworms are believed to be nutritious and are said to contain high amounts of protein, calcium, and iron. Some traditional Chinese medicine practitioners also believe that silkworms have medicinal properties and can help boost the immune system and improve digestion.

Silkworms can be prepared in different ways for consumption. In some dishes, the silkworms are simply boiled and served with seasoning, while in others, they are stir-fried with vegetables or mixed with other meats. Some people also eat the silkworm pupae, which are considered a delicacy and can be fried or steamed.

silkworm in Taoism

In Taoism, the silkworm is sometimes used as a symbol of transformation and metamorphosis. The transformation of the silkworm from a caterpillar to a moth represents a change from one state of being to another, which is seen as a natural and necessary process in Taoist philosophy.

Silkworms are also used in some Taoist practices, particularly in traditional Chinese medicine. Silkworms have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries for their medicinal properties, and are believed to have a range of health benefits. They are often used to help with issues related to blood circulation, as well as for their anti-inflammatory properties.

In Taoist alchemy, the silkworm is sometimes used as a metaphor for the process of spiritual transformation. Just as the silkworm transforms itself into a moth, so too can human beings undergo a process of transformation, moving from a state of ignorance and darkness to one of enlightenment and spiritual awakening.

silkworm in Confucianism

Silkworms do not have a significant role in Confucianism as they are not mentioned in the Confucian classics or teachings. However, Confucius did emphasize the importance of agriculture and farming in society, which includes the cultivation of silk through the raising of silkworms. Confucius viewed agriculture as a noble and virtuous profession and believed that it was the foundation of society. The cultivation of silk was seen as a valuable trade and a means of improving the economy, which aligns with Confucian ideals of benefiting society as a whole through individual actions.

In Chinese culture, the silkworm represents the teacher who educates and nurtures students. Confucius, the founder of Confucianism, is the most famous teacher in Chinese history. If one were to select the most learned person in the Spring and Autumn period, Confucius would surely be the winner. Confucius advocated the virtues of benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and trustworthiness, and had more than three thousand disciples. Later generations called him “Confucius the Saint.” Confucius’ educational philosophy has had an immeasurable impact on China and the world. In educational practice, Confucianism emphasizes the purpose of education, as it has a decisive significance for the nature, content, and approach of education. Confucius believed that the purpose of education was to cultivate a gentleman who can regulate and administer oneself and others with morality.

silkworm in Buddhism

Silkworms do not have a significant role in Buddhist teachings or practices. Buddhism focuses on the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, and the cultivation of wisdom, compassion, and ethical conduct to overcome suffering and attain enlightenment. In Buddhist cultures such as China, silkworms may be viewed as a symbol of hard work, perseverance, and transformation, but they do not hold a particular religious significance within Buddhism itself.

Why did the Chinese keep the silkworm a secret?

There are several theories as to why the Chinese kept the silkworm a secret for a long time. One of the main reasons is that the Chinese wanted to maintain a monopoly on the silk trade, which was an important source of wealth and power for the Chinese empire. By controlling the production of silk, the Chinese could command high prices for their products and maintain their economic dominance in the region.

Another theory is that the Chinese kept the silkworm a secret to protect their culture and technology from foreign influence. Silk production was closely tied to Chinese culture and history, and revealing the secrets of silk production could have led to the loss of cultural identity and national pride. Additionally, the Chinese may have feared that if other nations learned about the silkworm and silk production, they would be able to replicate the technology and compete with China, potentially weakening their position in the region.

Finally, some historians suggest that the Chinese simply wanted to maintain their technological advantage over other nations. By keeping the silk production process a secret, the Chinese could continue to innovate and improve their methods, ensuring that they remained ahead of their rivals.

how silkworms come to Europe?

In 527 AD, the talented and ambitious Justinian became emperor and set out to restore the vast territories of the ancient Roman Empire and reclaim the lands occupied by barbarian tribes. Shortly after taking the throne, Justinian declared war on the Persian Sassanid Empire, Rome’s longtime enemy. Years of warfare depleted the national treasury, leaving Justinian with a shortage of funds to support his army, which struggled against the Persian cavalry.

As a result, Justinian began implementing military reforms, emulating the barbarians by establishing a powerful armored cavalry legion and heavy infantry troops. He also started recruiting mercenaries in large numbers, all of which required financial support. To obtain the huge profits from the silk trade, Justinian turned his attention to a commodity that was extremely valuable in the West: Chinese silk.

At the time, only China possessed the technology for sericulture and silk production. Chinese silk was sold to Europe through the Silk Road, and it was highly coveted by the entire Western world, even including the Germanic tribes who had destroyed the Western Roman Empire. In order to maintain a monopoly on the silk trade, China only allowed silk and raw silk to be exported and strictly prohibited the export of silkworm eggs. Anyone caught smuggling silkworm eggs out of the country would be subject to severe punishment, including the extermination of their entire family.

Due to the difficulties of transportation, silk that arrived in Europe was more expensive than an equal weight of gold. At that time, the Persians, who controlled the trade routes between East and West, were the ones who sold Chinese silk to Europe and profited greatly from it. This made the entire Eastern Roman Empire, including Justinian, eager to obtain it. Initially, Justinian attempted to negotiate with the Persians to share the profits, and even planned to join forces with the Ethiopians to bypass the Persians and purchase silk from India by sea, before shipping it to Rome in the East. However, when the Persians learned of this plan, they threatened the Ethiopians with violence, preventing them from acting as intermediaries for the Romans.

With no other options, Justinian then turned to the Turkic Khaganate, Persia’s neighbor, to help mediate the relationship with the Persians. However, the Persian king not only refused to listen to the mediation but also poisoned the Turkic envoy, exacerbating the conflict between the two sides. In 571 AD, the Eastern Roman Empire, allied with the Turkic Khaganate, launched an attack on Persia, which lasted for 20 years and was known as the “Silk War” in Western history. The war ended with no clear winner.

In the 6th century AD, the Byzantine Empire was suffering from a shortage of silk due to the severing of relations with Persia, the main source of silk. Silk weaving had almost come to a halt, and Emperor Justinian I attempted to develop silk production within the empire. However, his efforts were met with resistance from the Persians.

At this critical moment, a momentous event occurred that would have a significant impact on both the East and West, particularly on the Chinese economy. According to Byzantine historian Procopius in his book “The Wars of Justinian,” in 545 AD, two Indian monks arrived in the Eastern Roman capital of Constantinople seeking an audience with Emperor Justinian. Upon meeting with the emperor, they immediately explained their purpose for coming: they were from India and had served in the Liang Dynasty of China. The Liang emperor was a devout Buddhist, and southern China was a major silk-producing area. The Indian monks offered to return to China with a large sum of money if Emperor Justinian would agree to provide them with a significant reward in exchange for bringing back silkworms and the techniques for raising and weaving silk.

The monks also informed Emperor Justinian that silk was produced by a worm called the “silkworm,” which fed on mulberry leaves, and not, as was previously believed in the West, grown on trees. Emperor Justinian was skeptical but agreed to the monks’ terms, giving them the money upfront and promising them a reward upon the completion of their mission. The two Indian monks then made a long and arduous journey through Persia and into southern China, where they studied the entire process of raising silkworms and weaving silk from the locals, as well as the necessary tools.

Finally, they filled their bamboo staffs and luggage racks with a large quantity of silkworm eggs and made their way to northern China. At that time, northern China was in a state of war between the Northern and Southern dynasties, and the border officials were unaware of the two Indian monks’ conspiracy. Additionally, due to the widespread popularity of Buddhism in China, the monks faced little to no restrictions.

when silkworm come to Europe

As a result, the Chinese silkworms and silk weaving techniques were easily smuggled out of the country by the two Indian monks. In 552 AD, after their long and difficult journey, the two Indian monks returned to the Byzantine Empire’s capital of Constantinople. Emperor Justinian was overjoyed upon receiving the news and personally welcomed the two monks, fulfilling his promise of a significant reward. The monks shared the silkworms and the related techniques they had learned in China with Byzantine workers. From then on, China’s thousand-year monopoly on silk trade was broken, and Constantinople became the center of the silk industry in Europe and the entire Western world.

silkworm in the silk road

Silkworms played a critical role in the history of the Silk Road, the ancient trade route that linked China with the Mediterranean world. Silk production was a closely guarded secret in ancient China, and silk fabrics were highly valued by people all over the world for their beauty, softness, and durability.

The Silk Road was a complex network of trade routes that spanned thousands of miles, connecting China with Central Asia, India, Persia, the Middle East, and Europe. Along this route, silk was one of the most important commodities traded, and the demand for this luxury item drove the expansion of trade and the growth of cities and economies all along the way.

The silkworms themselves were not transported along the Silk Road, but the silk cocoons and the techniques for rearing silkworms and spinning silk were. It was said that the Chinese kept the secret of silk production for over a thousand years, and anyone caught smuggling silkworms or silk-making techniques out of China faced severe punishment, including death.

However, over time, silk production spread beyond China, and the art of sericulture (the cultivation of silkworms for the production of silk) was adopted by neighboring countries, including Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and India. As a result, silk production became a major industry in many parts of Asia and the Middle East, and silk fabrics became more widely available to people all over the world.

In summary, the silkworm played a vital role in the history of the Silk Road, as silk production and trade helped to connect people and cultures across vast distances and to shape the economies and societies of many different regions of the world.

Silkworm pattern

The silkworm is a unique insect in China. The silkworm pattern is a traditional decorative pattern that appeared on ancient Chinese bronze ware. “Shuowen” states: “The silkworm is a worm that produces silk.” The body of the silkworm is curved, with a round head and protruding eyes. The silkworm pattern was used more frequently during the Yin and Western Zhou dynasties, but became less common later. The pattern features a curved body in a wriggling posture with a round head and protruding eyes, and was applied to the body of vessels during the Yin period. During the end of the Yin and the early Western Zhou period, the silkworm pattern was combined with cloud and thunder patterns and decorated on the feet or mouth of vessels.

Silkworm in Chinese Poetry

Silkworm Mother

By Zhang Yu, Song Dynasty

Yesterday I went to the city,

Returning home with tears in my handkerchief.

Everyone I saw was dressed in silk,

But none of them were silkworm mothers.

Tang Dynasty Li Shangyin

It’s difficult to meet, and it’s also difficult to part.

The east wind is powerless, and the flowers are withered.

The spring silkworms die when they weave the last silk, and the candle’s tears dry only after it turns to ash.

 In the morning, I worry that my hair will turn white in front of the mirror, and at night, I sing and feel the coldness of the moonlight.

From here, there’s not much of a road left to the Penglai mountain.

The blue bird is eager to explore and see.

Idioms related to silkworms

蚕食鲸吞(cán shí jīng tūn)

“Cannibalize like silkworms eating mulberry leaves and swallow like whales” is a Chinese idiom, which means to gradually encroach and swallow up a territory, like silkworms eating mulberry leaves, or to quickly and forcefully swallow a territory, like whales swallowing their prey. It is used to describe the various ways in which a country may invade and annex the territory of another country. The idiom is from “Han Feizi · Cun Han”.

作茧自缚(zuò jiǎn zì fù)

“作茧自缚” is a Chinese idiom that originated from the behavior of silkworms, which spin cocoons around themselves and become trapped. It is used to describe a situation where someone’s actions lead to their own downfall or misfortune. The idiom can be translated into English as “weave a cocoon around oneself” or “tie one’s own hands”.

why silkworm is important

The silkworm is important for several reasons. First and foremost, it is the primary source of silk, which is a highly valued and sought-after textile material that has been used for thousands of years in China and other parts of the world. Silk is known for its softness, luster, and durability, and has been used to create luxurious clothing, bedding, and other items.

In addition to its use as a textile material, the silkworm is also important for its role in the ecosystem. Silkworms are herbivorous and feed primarily on mulberry leaves, which helps to maintain the health of mulberry trees and other plants in the ecosystem. They also serve as an important food source for a variety of animals, including birds, bats, and other insects.

Finally, the silkworm has cultural significance in many parts of the world, particularly in China where it has been highly valued for centuries. It is associated with wealth, luxury, and elegance, and has been used in many traditional Chinese art forms, including painting, calligraphy, and embroidery.

Silkworm vs. Butterfly

Silkworms and butterflies have a significant cultural importance in China.

Silkworms are revered for their contribution to the ancient art of silk production, which has been a major part of Chinese culture for thousands of years. The Chinese have long been recognized as the first to discover the process of silk production, which involves the careful cultivation of silkworms, the harvesting of their cocoons, and the weaving of the delicate threads into luxurious fabrics.

Silk has played an important role in China’s economy, as well as in its cultural and social life. Silk fabrics were used to make clothing for the emperor and his court, and were also used as gifts and trade goods. In addition, silk was used to make paper, musical instruments, and even fishing lines.

Butterflies, on the other hand, are symbols of transformation and beauty in Chinese culture. They are associated with the concept of metamorphosis, representing the idea of growth, change, and evolution. The butterfly is also a symbol of love and joy, and is often used in traditional Chinese art and literature.

Overall, both silkworms and butterflies hold a special place in Chinese culture, representing important values and ideas.

Silkworm vs.bat

In Chinese culture, both silkworms and bats have important symbolism.

Silkworms are highly regarded in Chinese culture for their production of silk, which has been a valuable commodity for thousands of years. The process of cultivating silkworms and extracting their silk is a labor-intensive process that requires patience, skill, and dedication. As a result, the silkworm has become a symbol of hard work, perseverance, and industry.

Bats, on the other hand, are considered a symbol of good luck and prosperity. The Chinese word for bat, “fu,” sounds similar to the word for good fortune or happiness, “fu.” As a result, bats are often depicted in Chinese art and culture as a symbol of good luck and happiness.

Overall, both silkworms and bats hold important cultural significance in China, representing hard work and good luck respectively.

Silkworm vs. swallow

Silkworm and swallow are both important symbols in Chinese culture. The silkworm, as we have discussed earlier, is associated with silk production and the creation of wealth. The swallow, on the other hand, is a symbol of good luck, happiness, and prosperity.

Swallows are believed to bring good fortune, and their appearance is often seen as a sign of the arrival of spring. In Chinese mythology, the swallow is associated with the goddess of fertility and is believed to be a symbol of the love between husband and wife. In addition, swallows are admired for their agility and grace in flight, and their nests are believed to bring good luck to the home.

In traditional Chinese culture, it is believed that the swallow’s nest has medicinal properties and can help to nourish the body and enhance longevity. Swallow’s nest soup is a highly valued delicacy, and it is believed to have a number of health benefits.

Overall, while the silkworm and swallow have different cultural significance in China, both are highly regarded and have played important roles in Chinese history and culture.

Silkworm vs. cicada

In the summer, the sound of cicadas and crickets can often be heard. Although these two insects have some similarities in appearance and sound, they are actually quite different.


Although cicadas and crickets both have a somewhat “green translucent” appearance, their body shapes are still different. The body of a cicada is relatively short with a large head, relatively long wings, and thin legs, while the body of a cricket is relatively long with a not very large head, relatively short wings, and thick, short legs.


The sound of cicadas and crickets is also a notable characteristic, but their calls are different. The sound of a cicada is relatively monotonous, with a “buzzing” sound, while the call of a cricket is more complex, with different sounds such as “drip-drip”, “chirping”, and “squeaking”.


Cicadas and crickets also have different lifestyles. Cicadas are semi-social insects that typically lay their eggs on or under trees, and their larvae hatch and grow by absorbing plant juices from the roots in the soil. Crickets, on the other hand, are solitary insects that can lay their eggs on tree trunks, in grass or in the soil, and their larvae also feed on tree juices.


Cicadas and crickets also have different lifespans. Cicadas have a lifespan of about 3 to 4 weeks, while crickets have a longer lifespan of about 1 year.


In ancient China, cicadas symbolized resurrection and eternal life, which came from its life cycle. It begins as a larva, then becomes a ground-dwelling pupa, and finally transforms into a flying insect. The image of a cicada larva can be seen on Shang Dynasty bronze ware from 2000 BCE, and from the late Zhou Dynasty to the Han Dynasty, a jade cicada was always put in the mouth of the deceased for protection. Cicadas were also considered pure and innocent because they live on dew.

Silkworms symbolize hard work, diligence, and wisdom, and are used to describe dedicated individuals such as teachers in poetry and literature. A line from Tang Dynasty poet Li Shangyin’s poem, “The spring silkworms will spin until they die, and the wax candles will burn until they dry my tears,” embodies the spirit of dedication, steadfastness, and sacrifice of the silkworm, becoming a famous line that has been passed down through the ages. At the same time, silkworms also represent new life. After spinning their silk and breaking out of their cocoons, they die, but their offspring will continue to grow.

what does a silkworm mean in a dream?

Dreaming of silkworms can have various meanings and interpretations depending on the context of the dream. In traditional Chinese dream interpretation, dreaming of silkworms is considered a good omen and can symbolize success, wealth, and happiness. Here are some common interpretations:

Dreaming of silkworms may indicate that you will engage in a lucrative job and achieve a prominent position.

Dreaming of silkworms can be a good omen indicating that your career will become more successful than before, and you may receive some small financial gains.

If you dream of large silkworms without cocoons, it may suggest that your career will become more successful than before, and you may receive some small financial gains.

Dreaming of silkworms eating mulberry leaves can symbolize that you can achieve what you want.

Dreaming of silkworms or silkworm pods is a good sign that your life will be happy and prosperous.

Dreaming of silkworm seedlings may indicate that your business will prosper or that you will become famous if you travel abroad.

Dreaming of a silkworm emerging from its cocoon suggests that you may become wealthy.

Dreaming of a silkworm moth emerging from its cocoon is a good omen for marriage or having a noble child.

Dreaming of silkworms flying without cocoons is a small good omen.

Dreaming of silkworms flying out of their cocoons may indicate encountering good things.

Dreaming of silkworm cocoons being punctured may indicate a difficult or challenging period.

Dreaming of a silkworm house is a good and auspicious dream.

Dreaming of silkworm silk suggests that your life and career will be happy and satisfying.

Dreaming of silkworms spinning cocoons may indicate success in construction projects or marriage, and everything will be accomplished with half the effort.

In summary, dreaming of silkworms can have different meanings depending on the specific context of the dream. It is essential to consider the details of the dream and any personal associations or emotions that arise when interpreting it.

Overall, the silkworm is a powerful symbol in Chinese culture, representing prosperity, perseverance, and transformation. Its importance can be seen not just in its association with the silk trade, but also in the way it has become a symbol of personal growth and development. As such, the silkworm remains an essential part of China’s cultural heritage and a valuable symbol for anyone seeking to understand the country’s rich history and traditions.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top