Evidence shows that silk can be traced back to between 4000 and 3000 BCE, with a half-cutted silk cocoon being found at the sites of Yangshao culture in Shanxi China. However, it remains a mystery how silk was first discovered and invented in history.
Legend has it that it was Leizu, princess of Xi Ling-shi and wife of the Yellow Emperor, who discovered silkworms. One good day Leizu was sitting under a mulberry tree enjoying a cup of tea when suddenly a silkworm cocoon dropped into her cup. As she watched it unravel, she picked the cocoon with a branch only to find a long unbroken thread.
She then spent time studying and observing silkworms. And with practice, she invented the reel and loom to extract silk from the cocoon and weave them into the fabric. So the sericulture has begun. Leizu was therefore credited as the inventor of silk in China, given the title of Goddess of Silk by the Yellow Emperor.
Over time silk became a luxurious and most sought-after item on the market. Later on, it was widely traded to Asia and the West along the Silk Road. Today, silk is still considered a rare luxury goods compared to many other fabrics around the world.
While it’s unknown how much of the legend is true, it sure makes a great story to share. Take-away from the story? Go sit under a tree, chances are you may get hit with a great idea!