The glamorous luxury-fabric has been one of China’s greatest feats, as well as its best kept secret. Dating back to over 5,000 years, the discovery and creation of silk has been a secret, skill, and tradition that has been passed down from generations of master silk weavers. The result? China has remained to this day the world’s leading producer of silk; one of the world’s most sought-after textiles.
Currently, the world’s silk production is estimated to be roughly 125,000 in metric tons. China produces about 80% of the world’s silk, while India produces over 10%. Other countries such as Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and Uzbekistan have their fair share of significant silk productions such as that of producing raw silk and yarn, with Brazil being the only non-Asian country that is a significant producer of silk and all its wondrous forms, with the United States being the largest silk importer in the world. As beautiful as it I strong, silk is the strongest of the natural fibers known to man, stronger than steel wiring at the very least! For this and more on the formidable textile, here are 10 sensational facts about silk:
Fact 1: You are not going to believe it! A silk rope is stronger than an equally thick and long metal wire! Impressed? For something so delicate and thin, you’d beg to disagree, but boy does silk sure know how to pack a punch.
Fact 2: A half kilo of those caterpillars that work hard to produce all of that fine silk, consumes about 12,000 mulberry tree leaves in its entire lifetime. That’s about each tiny little silkworm eating 40,000 times its own weight’s worth of mulberry tree leaves from when it’s born until it dies. Wow!
Fact 3: It takes more than 25 mulberry trees to acquire 3 kilograms of silk, and it takes about 10 kilograms of cocoons to obtain 1 kilogram of silk.
Fact 4: Silk worms increase by 12,000 times in weight by the first 4 weeks of its birth, growing about 15 times its size over its first 28 days! A single silk worm can produce 15m of fiber every minute.
Fact 5: A silk dress requires roughly 70 kilograms of mulberry tree leaves!
Fact 6: The biggest countries who’ve found themselves at the top of the silk producing industry are as follows: China, Thailand, India, Japan, and Brazil. There are 7 known types of silk, namely: Filament silk, Coarse silk, Dupion, Silk of the Mulberry silkworm, Silk Noile, Floret Silk, and lastly, the Silk of the Japanese Silk Moth.
Fact 7: In order to distinguish whether a piece of fabric is silk or not, the “burn test” is applied. The test will indicate whether or not a piece of fabric is silk, as Silk will curl away from the fire and will leave a brittle blackened bead after burning. Silk will always extinguish itself when removed from the flames.
Fact 8: Silk has been adored by man for approximately 5,000 years, and was discovered by the wife of the great Chinese Emperor Huang-Di, Empress Xiling. Its beauty reached far parts of the world, and from China, blossomed in Persia, Japan, Korea, and Brazil.
Fact 9: Way back in the 13th century, silk was only accessible as an oriental import. Only filthy rich and prominent people in high positions could afford it, as it was more of a luxury than a commodity.
Fact 10: Silk shimmers. As cute and whimsical as it sounds, there’s a science to it. Silk shimmers because of the structure of its fibers; its triangular-like prisms naturally allow light to reflect from several different angles.