Textiles for Textbooks (part I): Sericulture – Silk Farming and Manufacturing

The following series of images represent the process of sericulture and silk manufacturing in China.

Sericulture begins with the feeding of mulberry leaves to the caterpillars of domesticated Silkmoths (Bombyx mori).


When the silkworms are ready, after about 25 days, they are placed among twigs and begin producing silk in a continuous-filament fiber to form a cocoon.


Each cocoon contains about a thousand yards of silk filament!

The cocoons are sorted by hand on a conveyer, and then immersed in hot water to free the silk thread for reeling. The hot water immersion also kills the larvae, by the way. (Thus strict vegans should not wear silk!)


Single filaments are combined to form yarns and are wound on to reels.


The silk is dried and collected in bolts for various forms of manufacturing.

Various plants and substances are sources for natural dyes used to color silk.



Silk Embroidery is a traditional art in China, and requires excellent eyesight!


The same may be said for Silk Carpet weaving, as demonstrated in this video:


For more images, please visit the Silk Gallery at Mira Terra Images. Additional video clips are available for licensing, please contact me if interested.

This is the first part of a series of photo essays presenting textiles from around the world. Textiles for Textbooks (part II) will take a look at Llamas, Wool, and Weavers in the Andes. Stay tuned!


2 thoughts on “Textiles for Textbooks (part I): Sericulture – Silk Farming and Manufacturing

  1. I just visited a silk factory in Cambodia last month. The process IS amazing and it's hard to believe a silk scarf can be so relatively cheap compared to the amount of labor that goes into it!

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