Silk Source, Spread, Story
Intro • A fine, strong, soft, lustrous fiber, silk has been a major influence on the world culture and economics for over 1000 years. The Silk Roads sped up the development of civilizations and cultural diffusion because traders didn’t just sell and buy silk and spices; they also traded ideas and technology. In its role in medical supplies and elaborate garments, silk has held strong, and through trade it united Asia and Europe to the New World. Silk has had a considerable influence on world cultures and economics, and will continue to in the near future.
Intro • So what is silk? Silk is a fine, translucent, yellowish fiber produced by the silkworm when it makes its cocoon.
Silk and Chemistry • Silk is a protein fiber. It is made from Sericin and Fibroin. Fibroin being the structural center of the silk, and Sericin being the sticky material surrounding it. • Made of Glycine, Serine, Glycine, Alanine, Glycine, and Alanine. • Silk is made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen atoms. These atoms are not heavier than iron, which means they were made by very early supernovae.
How its made • Sericulture: The production of cocoon for their filament is called sericulture. The species Bombyxmori is usually cultivated and is raised under controlled condition of environment and nutrition. The life cycle of silk worm encircle in the four stages. The egg, the silk worm, the pupa and the moth. The silk worm which feeds on mulberry leaves forms a covering around it by secreting a protein like substance through its head.
How its made • Silk worms are kept in very controlled environments. • Everything is really regulated
How its made • The silkworms feed until they have enough energy to enter the cocoon. • When it is time to build their cocoons, the worms produce Sericin, which hardens when it comes in contact with air. Silkworms spend many days spinning a cocoon around them until they become puffy, white balls. • After eight or nine days in a warm, dry place the cocoons are ready to be unwound. First they are steamed to kill the worms, or pupas. • The cocoons are then dipped into hot water to loosen the tightly woven strands. These strands are unwound onto a spool. Between five and eight of these super-fine strands are twisted together to make one thread. Finally the silk threads are woven into cloth or shipped out.
Economy • Silk as a major player in many Asian markets. Take China for • The economy of China has benefited largely from the sheer numbers of factories in the provinces of this Asian nation. At one time 28% of its gross domestic product was silk export. • In the United States, silk apparel poses a true threat to cotton, which for many years had a wide spread in the purchase of clothes.
Silk Road • Silk has become such a worldly influence thanks to the Silk Road. The Silk Road was not actually a road. • It was not even a single route. The Silk Road was a name given to any route that led across China to Rome. It was about a 4000-mile trip. • Rome had gold and silver and precious gems. China had silk and spices and ivory. Ideas also traveled along the Silk Road, ideas that affected everyone such as religion and technology.
Silk Road • It was incredibly dangerous to travel along the Silk Road • There were bandits and pirates. • For safety reasons they worked in relays. Each trader would go a certain distance, exchange their goods for other goods, and hopefully return.
Silk Road • The Silk Road took caravans to the farthest extent of the Han Empire. Sections of the Great Wall were built along the northern side of the Gansu Corridor to try and prevent bandits from the north from harming the trade. Over the centuries, the Silk Road developed a civilization of its own. Where possible, the Silk Road became lined with huge temples and booming cities. It became far easier to travel the road. But it was never easy. There were still vast stretches of deserts and mountains to cross, with no city or water in sight.
Silk in China • The start of the Silk Road is in China, so we shall start exploring the lore of silk there. I learned that there is a legend involving silk. Around 3000 BC, the emperor of China, Huangdi, known as the Yellow Emperor, had a beautiful wife (one of many). She was strolling through the palace gardens, when she discovered some Silk worms, Bombyxmori, eating and destroying some mulberry trees. She collected several cocoons and sat down to have a rest. It just so happened that while she was sipping some tea, one of the cocoons that she had collected fell into the hot tea and started to unravel into a fine thread. The wife found that she could reel this thread around her fingers. Subsequently, she persuaded her husband to allow her to rear silkworms on a grove of mulberry trees, and using the silk reel, an invention of hers, to draw the fibers from the cocoon into a single thread so that they would be strong enough to be weaved into silk. While it is unknown just how much of this is truth or myth, it is certainly true that silk cultivation has existed in China for a very long time.
Silk in India • It all started around 1130 A.D. at the time of King Kumarpal, the King of Gujarat, a state in Western India. During his rule he was greatly influenced by a great Jain teacher, AcharyaHemchandra, who was a disciple of a Jain Prophet named Mahavir. The King was so inspired by his teachings of Ahimsa and Compassion that he declared in his entire state to stop killing for food, sport or fun.It is said that he was further inspired by Mahavir to lead a religious life and perform puja (a worship of an idol in the temple) every day to show his devotion to Lord Mahavir. The King, asked to wear the best, the most expensive and new clothes to perform the puja and so he ordered the best of the materials to make his clothes to be obtained. His men traveled to China to purchase the most costly, fine and soft material for their King. At that time the King did not know that the material purchased for him was silk, made from killing silkworms, which contradicted his beliefs. If he knew that he would not have used silk for puja. But since then the tradition has continued.
Silk in Europe • After Asia, the Silk Road veers into Europe. In medieval Europe, Italy was the biggest Silk producer. Because of the prevailing Silk industry in Italy due to its trade with China, many countries became jealous of Italy. They tried many times to introduce wild silk worms. James I attempted to establish silk production in England, by purchasing and planting 100,000 mulberry trees but they were of a species unsuited to the silk worms, and the attempt failed. The environment was not well maintained and it fell.
Silk in North America • In North America, Silk was a newer commodity, seeing as the country is so young. It started with King James introducing silk growing in 1619 on American colonies. This was to discourage tobacco planting. Eventually the US started to trade with Japan for silk, but that trade was halted because of World War 2.
Uses • Outside from clothes, ancient Asians and Europeans also used silk mainly as decorations. It was used in ancient tapestries, as a form of art. In many cases it would be a type of religious scene if it came from Europe. However, with newer technologies at hand, we now use silk for more than just looking pretty. Silk has been used and will continue to be used in many furnishing applications including wall coverings, curtains, wall tapestries, rugs, and beddings. In medicine, they are being used as sutures because they are strong and do not cause infections. It has been used to make parachutes, cigar bands, and silk heart valves. Around the late 18th century and early 19th century, silk also had a range of uses from advertising banners, cloth and trimmings used to make dresses, fans, bonnets, shawls and other accessories.
The Future • Now, humans are not limited to silkworms for their silk needs. We are now using Spider Silk for military uses. Why are we using Spider silk now though? Well Humans have been making use of spider silk for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks used cobwebs to stop wounds from bleeding and the Aborigines used silk as fishing lines for small fish. More recently, silk was used as the crosshairs in optical sights used in guns and telescopes until World War II. Current research in spider silk involves its potential use as an incredibly strong and versatile material.
The Future • The interest in spider silk is mainly due to its mechanical properties. The production of modern man-made super-fibers such as Kevlar involves petrochemical processing which contributes to pollution. Kevlar is also drawn from concentrated sulphuric acid. In contrast, the production of spider silk is completely environmentally friendly. It is made by spiders at ambient temperature and pressure and is drawn from water. In addition, silk is completely biodegradable.
The Future • If the production of spider silk ever becomes industrially viable, it could replace Kevlar and be used to make a diverse range of items such as bullet-proof clothing, wear-resistant lightweight clothing, ropes, nets, seat belts, parachutes, rust-free panels on motor vehicles or boats, biodegradable bottles, bandages, surgical thread, artificial tendons or ligaments, and even supports for weak blood vessels. However the production of spider silk is not simple and there are inherent problems. Firstly spiders cannot be farmed like silkworms since they are cannibals and will simply eat each other if in close proximity. The silk produced is very fine so 400 spiders would be needed to produce only one square yard of cloth. The silk also hardens when exposed to air which makes it difficult to work with.
Conclusion • From sutures to stockings, Silk has been a bold statement. Its uses vary and it outshines the competition. Synonymous with luxury, silk is a versatile fabric, with many uses and future brighter and shinier than its own luster.