This morning we visited the Waima Wharf Silk Exhibition Hall, and I thought it was one of the most interesting “museums” that we have visited. The silk originated in China. It's said that Chinese started farming silkworms and making silk clothes in the early beginning of civilization 4000 years ago. Silk manufacture was a very old traditional industry and raw silk was one of most primary products to export. “The silk road ” in northwest China was famous all over the world.
We first entered the hall and saw the cocoon-making house filled with small white silk worm cocoons. There was a basket of silk worms that were 15 days old that we could touch. Even the worm itself is soft to the touch. The guide explained that silk worms live only 55 days from birth to death as a moths, but each worm lays 400 eggs so the short life span does not affect the population much. The worms make cocoons either by wrapping silk around themselves or by entangling with another silk worm and creating a large cocoon around both worms.
Once the cocoon has been formed, the cocoon will be boiled in order to kill the moth(s) inside because if the moth breaks open the cocoon, then the cocoon can no longer be used for silk. A lot of people were surprised that the moths were killed to make all of the silk. The heated cocoon is then attached to a spinning wheel, and the silk is unwound from the cocoon in one single thread. After the silk is all off and only the bug is left, the silk material is then stretched and pulled to be used for other materials. We were able to watch 4 women stretching the silk in order to make a bed comfortable. It takes 4000-6000 cocoons to make one comforter! The women then invited band students to help stretch the silk. The guide told us that silk is often a prized possession because it is non-allergenic and very easy to clean. It does not get dusty and only requires a dab of hair shampoo to clean it well. We were then given time to shop in the gift store. They had lots of beautiful clothes for both men and women. Many people bought silk scarves and silk ties for themselves and family.