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Chinese Silk

Silk, Silkwarm-breeding
Silk is one of the best materials for clothing that has hardly any match in the world. Reputed to be the queen of fabrics it is light, lustrous, and durable. Also it has the advantages of being soft to the touch, resistant to heat, and breathing very well. All these features make it an ideal fiber for beautiful satins, charming brocade and attractive dresses. If one goes to a traditional opera in China. One will find people from well-to-dl families in silk dresses, which are believed to be commensurate with their social status.

China is the first producer of silk in the world: silk production was started in the country circa 4,500 years ago. And today, centers of silk production are stringed along rivers in south China, in Suzhou and Hangzhou, for instance, in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, in Fushan in south china. And in Nanchong in south west china. And many other areas as well , where silk-worms are bred.

Silkworm breeding is done by the farmers in the rural areas. it takes an average of 26-27days for a silk worm, which is no bigger than an ant ,to grow old enough to spin a cocoon. In the very hot summer days, the breeding season lasts merely 22or 23 days In other seasons, it might be 30 days or so. The farmers used to breed the worms twice a year, in spring and autumn. Now, however, the farmers do the silkworm breeding 3,4 or even 5 times a year provided the mulberry leaves, the only food for the worms, are available.

Silkworms are delicate creatures. They can be easily killed by rats, mosquitoes, and flies, or by the dust on the mulberry leaves. That is why the cat is a familiar scene in every silkworm village. that is also why farmers will lime wash the rearing houses before the breeding season sets in ,and will sometimes clean the mulberry leaves one by one before they feed them to the worms.

Silk worms are hungry creatures, too. They eat a lot. In fact ,they have to be fed every four hours, including at night, In Wuxi ,where sericulture is a major agribusiness female farmers are said to take as much care of silkworms as they do their own babies. Hence silkworms are given the intimate name "delicate babies, Now as they eat a lot ,they drop a lot ,the droppings of the silkworms make an excellent manure, which is far superior to many chemical fertilizers.

Silkworms are heavy sleepers by nature. They keep eating the leaves for a couple of days and then go to a long sleep. In a lifetime of 20 to 30 days and then go to a long sleep each of which lasts about 24 hours. when they wake up form a sleep, they plunge into eating the leaves with a better appetite than before. The last sleep is the longest sleep-about 36 hours or even more. when they wake up ,they are ready to spin cocoons To show their readiness to spin ,the women farmers will pick then up one by one from where they stay, which is usually a bamboo tray ,and put then onto a straw mountain. It is not a real mountain, just straw arranged like the spikes of a wheel .The farmers have to see to it that no two silkworms stay too close to each other, otherwise they are likely to make one cocoon instead of two and the silk threads will all get mixed up and serve no reeling purposes. The spinning process, extending 3 to 4 days, is a fascinating one which has given rise to a Chinese idiom. i.e., spinning a cocoon around oneself, which means making rules and regulations only to have one's own hands and feet bound, as is the case of a bureaucrat.

Now what happens is that the glutinous stuff that comes out of the mouth of a full-grown silkworm is a long, long thread which goes round and round the worm, glued together, At the beginning, one will see a thin film of silk thread through which the worm is visible, When the spinning process is over, the cocoon is made ,and the worm is wrapped inside, invisible.

When the cocoons are made, the farmers will pick them up and put them into bamboo baskets. Then they will transport then to the purchasing centers set up by the silk companies right in the rural areas. There, heating has to be done in good time to all the cocoons in order to kill ,or rather, stifle the chrysalises inside. If they fail to do this, the worms will transform themselves from chrysalises into moths and emerge out of the cocoons rendering them useless for reeling purposes with a hole in each of then. Needless to say, not all the cocoons are heated. A few are selected and preserved for the next generation.

From one coon one can get a silk thread which is between 800 and 1,4000 meters long.A silk thread in actual use, however, comes not from one cocoon, but from 6 to 10 cocoons.

Nothing is wasted during the silk production; after the cocoon is removed, the worm inside the cocoon is high in protein can be cooked and eaten. Small worms are used for medicinal uses (arthritis and rheumatism), as well as for cosmetics. 

A double cocoon is very rare, and only occurs in China. To create the silk quilts, workers stretch double cocoons over a small frame, and then stretch it over a larger frame, and finally, four workers stretch the cocoons into a larger square.

 
Information on Chinese silk including the legends of the origin of the silk, silk culture, spread of the silk throughout the world, and some interesting facts about silk.
The cultivation of the silkworm can be traced back to the 3 rd century BC. It was said that Demigod Leizu, a legendary figure of prehistoric China, started the planting of mulberry trees and raise of silkworms. According to archeological discovery, silk and silk fabrics emerged at least 5,500 years ago. In the Zhou dynasty, special administration was set up to manage sericulture and silk production. From 138 B.C. to 126 B.C., Zhang Qian started his diplomatic mission under imperial order to the west along the famous Silk Road. Gradually, sericulture and silk production techniques spread to many countries. Now, Chinese silk still enjoys high reputation in the world.
 
Chinese embroidery show: Traditional Chinese painting embroidery
 
Traditional Chinese painting embroidery Traditional Chinese painting, compare with the Western painting, is alike in spirit, not in appearance. the painter use the black strokes and white paper to create artistic comception.
Chinese painting is a constructive art. The painter creates his work with his handling of the ink and the drawing brush. The black strokes and white space on the paper create a sense of beauty. It 's an art form involving a great deal of theoretical knowledge and requiring many skills. Therefore, there are not many painters that have reached the highest realm of Chinese painting.
Following are the trabitional Chinese painting, but embroidered.
Embroidery is a form of traditional Chinese art. During the Spring and Autumn Period, more than 2,000 years ago, people from Wu State applied embroidery to clothes. That was the origin of Suzhou-style embroidery. China's three other well-known styles of embroidery are the Xiang, Shu and Yue.
Embroidery always accompanies silk and its development. The most famous embroideries in China are Su embroidery in Jiangsu, Xiang embroidery in Hunan, Shu embroidery in Sichuan and Yue embroidery in Guangdong, namely Four Renowned Embroideries.
   
 
Suzhou Embroidery appeared in the Northern Song Dynasty and was briefly named Su embroidery. According to history records, Su embroidery was so popular in the Song dynasty that people even named their lanes with names concerned with silk and embroidery. Almost every family raised silkworm and embroidered. Su embroidery reached its peak in Qing dynasty.
Su embroidery has wide range of themes. Its techniques include single face embroidery and unique double-face embroidery, which looks the same from either side. Simple composition, clear theme, vivid image and gentle color are basic features of delicate Su embroidery. Now it even absorbs some western painting techniques.
 
Combining merits of Su embroidery and Yue embroidery with local embroidery, Xiang embroidery came into being in the later Qing dynasty. However, Hunan's local embroidery had a long history. Archeologists have discovered fine silk embroidery items in the Chu and Han Tombs, which were both more than 2,000 years ago.
Compare with the other embroideries, it is unique in style. Its unique embroidery techniques facilitate tiger patterns embroidery, which Xiang embroidery is famous for. Although it features techniques of painting, engraving, calligraphy and embroidery, it is generally based on the Chinese painting. Now, it has developed a new unmatched embroidery product - Double-face and Different Images Embroidery, which features different images and colors on each side of the transparent chiffon.
 
As it is mainly produced around Chengdu, Sichuan province, it is also called Chuan Embroidery. It has a long history although it formed a style in the middle of the Qing dynasty. The materials adopted for such embroidery are local-produced soft satin and colorful threads. The threads are neatly and thickly used and the colors are elaborately arranged. It is characterized by even stitches, bright threads, closeness and softness in texture, delicate needling. Its theme covers mainly animals and plants in the nature, especially adept at embroidering pandas and fish. The embroidered products include mirror curtain, wedding dress, hats and shoes etc., with the main themes of auspicious happiness.
 
It is also called Cantonese Embroidery for it is produced in Guangdong province. It is said that it was created by a minority people in the middle and at the end of the Ming dynasty. A variety of threads are used, including thread twisted from the peacock quill and down thread from the horsetail. The whole piece is bright in color with gold thread as the contour for embroidering complicated patterns, looking splendid. Such themes are usually employed as A Hundred Birds Displaying Homage to The Phoenix, marine products and melons.
 
Silk Goods
Originated in the primitive society, silk skills are one of great Chinese contributions to the world development. It demonstrates the brilliant civilization of ancient China. According to the different weaving skills and silk fabrics, silk goods are divided to many types, such as brocade, satin and so on. Historically, most of these silk goods served as clothing material and decorations. However, the common people, who once produced excellent silk skills and goods, could not afford this expensive material because of poverty.
 
Chinese Embroidery Pouch
Hebao, the Chinese name of embroidery pouch, was named after the original name of an ancient food, although it really was a bag for containing things instead of a food for eating.
There are several meanings of embroidery Pouch: 1. It refers to a bag woven out of stain and cloth. The outside of embroidery pouch is embroidered while the inside has a thick layer. It was popular with people as gift to express friendship and souvenir. In daily life, it can be used for containing thins, such as watch, wallet, mirror, tobacco and fan.
In China, as a custom, a girl began to learn embroidery at the age of about seven. When married, the pouches made by the girl would be given to the relatives and friends as a gift or manifestation of her deftness in handwork.
Secondly, on the Dragon Boat Festival, Chinese people often insert Chinese mugwort to exorcise the five poisonous creatures. When the girls made pouch, they also filled it with mugwort and perfumed grass.
Thirdly, pouch also served as a gift between young girls and boys as a symbol of love.
 
Cloud Brocade
Due to the high-quality silk and exquisite skill were used, this kind of brocades look like colorful cloud, hence the name Cloud brocade. From the Yuan dynasty to the Ming dynasty, Cloud brocade was mostly used for imperial clothing material.
 
Folk Embroidery

 It is a traditional handicraft of China. Along the Chinese history, it has been once called "zao", "needle embroidery", "patterned  embroidery" and is generally called "embroidering patterns." For it is made by women, it is also called "woman's needlework." As recorded in the Book of Shan, the garments donned by ancient kings and emperors are manually embroidered. Since the Han Dynasty the embroidering skill has been greatly improved with a large variety of embroidery methods. The calligraphy and drawing can be embroidered since the Tang and Song Dynasties. The embroidery is widely employed in making clothing,  tobacco bag, extra pocket, perfume bag, pillowship cushion, hat, shoes, screen and tapestry, etc. The embroidery is also applied to making cloth portraits of gods and spirits, the curtain for Buddha sculptures in temples and the stage costumes. The traditional skills of embroidery include sparse needling, manual needling, side needling and many other innovative skills. Many embroidering skills with local characteristics have come into bei
 
Dai Brocade
As its name suggests, Dai brocade is the product of Dai minority. Early in the Han dynasty, they have produced muslin, a kind of cotton cloth, which was classified to cotton
 and silk brocades.
Different from the smooth development of cotton brocade, the growth of silk brocade had experienced several undulations. The cotton brocade takes the yarn of original color as its material while the silk brocade is woven by the weft dyed in red or black.
 
Tujia Brocade

 It is a brocade of the Tujia Nationality. The General History of the Ming Dynasty calls it "striped cloth." In the Song Dynasty they called it "brook cloth" and "brook-cave facing." Tujia brocade is made by waist weaver. It takes yarn as warp and silk as weft. The weaving method is "interweaving the intermittent warp and incessant weft."
 
Dong Brocade
It is a brocade of the Dong minority. Taking yarn and silk as its materials, the Dong brocade can be woven with one or two materials of these two. Featured by its patterns, which mainly are flora, fauna and Chinese characters, this kind of brocade commonly served as the material for child's sleeveless garment, quilt facing, scarf, etc.
 
Li Brocade
Produced by the people of Li minority living in Hainan Island, this kind of brocade mainly served as the material for women's tube- shaped skirt, bag, etc. Woven with cotton yarn and silk thread, Li brocade was once called as "Li cloth" and "Li curtain" in the Song dynasty.
 
Lu Brocade
Mainly produced by people in the south and north of Shandong province, this kind of brocade is featured by its bright color and strong texture. It was in the 1980's that Lu brocade experienced a large progress and gradually catered to the need of the modern life.
 
Miao Brocade
Made by the people of Miao minority, this kind of brocade is popular in Guiding, Guizhou province. It is used as ornament for the collar, front and sleeve of woman's garment, as well as the material for daily costume and quilt.
 
Sichuan Brocade
Produce in Chengdu, Sichuan province, in Han dynasty, Sichuan brocade is the main branch of the traditional silk brocade. Since Sichuan and the middle China was linked up, the brocade-making skills were spread throughout China. With more and more designs, patterns, and colors applied, Sichuan silk brocade had flourished in Tang, Song, and Yuan dynasties. Especially in Tang dynasty, Sichuan brocade produced a large number of marvelous goods, in which the bundle flower lining brocade and the red lion and phoenix lining brocade were magnum opus of this period.
 
Yao Brocade
As the History of Xiangzhou recorded, Yao minority is the originator of Yao brocade. The main patterns of Dong brocade are flora and fauna or geometrical grains. Woven with dyed yarn or silk thread, these beautiful brocades are widely used by Han people as dowry when the girls are married.
Not all brocades are suitable to the festive occasions. In some places, brocades with different colors have different meanings. Such as in Quanxiu, Guangxi province, the red brocades suggest happiness and propitious, while the orange or green brocades imply mourning and sadness.
 
Suzhou Brocade
Produce in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, this kind of brocade was the most famous brocade in China. It once was lost at the end of the Ming dynasty, but soon revived at the beginning of the Qing dynasty. Suzhou brocade was characterized by the harmonious colors and geometrical patterns. It is divided to big brocade and small brocade according to the size. Big brocade, also called heavy brocade, mainly served as mounting picture and decoration, while the small brocade is used as decorations for small articles.
 
Zhuang Brocade
Produced in the Guangxi province, it is a brocade of the Zhuang minority. Taking the silk down and locally produced silk threads as materials, the articles such as quilt facing, tablecloth, and scarf are woven on the weaving machine, which operated by one woman. The patterns on the Zhuang brocade are mainly figures, flora and fauna and geometrical grains.

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