Why Was Silk Important In Ancient China? (Si Chou)

Silk is an exceptionally delicate fabric that was first produced in Neolithic China. The silk fabric is produced from the filaments of a silkworm cocoon, and it was the staple source of income for the small farmers who employed unique weaving techniques, hence the spread of the reputation of the Chinese Silk. After some time, the Chinese Silk was highly desirable across numerous empires in the ancient world.

For much of the history of silk, China’s biggest export was silk, and it is the reason for the renowned Silk Road router that connected East Asia with India, Africa, and Europe.

Besides the use of silk in making fine clothes, it was also used for making wall hangings, fans, and banners, and it was also used as paper for artists and writers.

Origin and the cultivation of Silk

Silk is produced by the silkworms referred biologically as Bombyx mori, and it forms a cocoon within which larvae develops. One specimen can produce a 0.025mm thick thread that’s 3,000ft/ 900meters long. These filaments are then twisted to form a thick thread that is thick enough to weave different materials. Silk fabrics were made from looms and treadle-operated versions seen, for example, in the murals of the Han Dynasty’s tombs.

Who Invented Silk In Ancient China/ How Was Silk Invented In Ancient China?

Silk dates back thousands of years, and China is known as the home of the Mulberry silkworm. The arts of silk weaving and silk forming were first discovered in ancient China, and the humble silk fabric turned out to be one of the most historical elements of the Chinese civilization.

Silk was invented accidentally by the Chinese Empress in 2700BC, down in ancient China. As recorded by Confucius, who was one of the greatest/ famous Chinese politicians and philosophers, silk was discovered by Leizu, the Chinese Empress called Xi Ling Shi, who made the discovery when a silkworm cocoon fell into her cup of tea. The hot water softened the silk fiber from the silkworm cocoon, from where the silkworm’s cocoon lost its cohesiveness. So, when Leizu lifted up the cocoon from the teacup, the silk thread end was loosened as the cocoon unraveled. Leizu noted a single silk strand, and she was inspired to weave the thread into fabric. Following her discovery, she made her husband Emperor Huangdi, aware, and he encouraged her to make observations of the silkworms.

Her discovery led to further studying the mulberry tree silkworms, persuading her husband to gift her mulberry trees (the silkworms feed on the mulberry leaves) for her to farm silkworms in. she learned a lot from her studies, and she taught her attendants how to raise the silkworms.

Empress Leizu is also said to be the one who invented the silk reel used to spin the silk fibers into the thread from multiple cocoons. From the silk thread, a silk loom was formed, and the reel was used to weave the silk fabrics. Her successful discovery led to the beginning of sericulture – the process of farming silkworms to form silk fabrics.

How Was Silk Used In Ancient China?

Silk was used to make silk thread and silk fabric. Following the discovery of the value of silk fabric, silk was soon one of the most valuable export commodities, with queens, kings, nobles, and princesses wanting silk, at whatever high price. To maintain a competitive advantage, China kept the silk production process a trade secret.

Silk was also used as a form of currency, besides its use to make exquisite clothing, painting canvases, and some of the strongest fishing lines.

Why Was Silk Important In Ancient China?

  • It’s what spawned the longest trading route, the Silk Road.
  • China is the largest producer of silk in the world.
  • Silk plays a crucial role in Chinese fashion.
  • It is a status symbol for Ancient China.
  • It’s part of China’s rich history.
  • Silk production is one of the best tourist sights in China.


1.who invented silk in ancient china/how was silk invented in ancient china. Retrieved from. https://lalouettesilk.com/blog/the-history-of-silk/

2.why was silk important in ancient china. Retrieved from. https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/culture/silk-facts.htm

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