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History of Silk

About 2000 years ago, Mencius, second only to the great Master Confucius, described his dream: farms surrounded by mulberry trees. The interest in silk began with the observation of the evolutionary cycle of the silkworm: the life cycle of the insecticide for four stages of transformation, starting from the egg, first mutating into a larva, then becoming a chrysalis and finally a butterfly. Just the extraordinary mutation of the worm, which secretes the silky filament in which it closes before being reborn as a butterfly, has led the ancients to imagine that the dead people, if dressed in silk could have easily turned on the sky. The oldest silk fabrics that have been preserved over time were found in a coffin in the village of Qingtai, in the province of Heman, dating from around 3630 BC. and wrapped the bodies of children. From the time of the Warring States (475 – 221 BC) silk began to be produced on a large scale

The way of commerce

The Prophet prescribed to the various believers not to use the silk… a fabric too much beautiful, rich, gorgeous to dress him of it on this Earth. It was something of reserved to the blessed ones. Luxury, charm, softness, iridescence, lightness, seduction. “Smooth as the silk, soft as the silk…”.

between the VI and the VII century BC , silk began to be important in Europe through the famous Silk Road. the Greeks attributed the name of Seres to this product. The opening of the commercial streets that gave rise to the real silk road? to the great revolution of 221 B.C. , or the unification of China under a single Dynasty, led by the first emperor Qin Shi Huang. Pliny the Elder, in the sixth book of his Naturalis Historia dedicated to Asia (first century AD), proves to know the “people of the Silk”. The markets are pushed, especially after the exploits of Alexander the Great, through different itineraries, on the ground and in a second moment by sea, towards the Asian, Indian and Chinese East.

Silk in Tuscany

This way, while in the first centuries the silk came in Europe through the streets of Earth and, beginning from the XII sec. , through the streets of sea (Red India-sea or with the circumnavigation of Africa to the Portuguese work in four hundred), in a second time the art of the silk becomes familiar to the European artisans and particularly to the lucchesis.

Lucca becomes the capital of the production of the silk, as Venice will be the center of the sorting and the commerce of it. This art will remain for centuries the main Italian manufacturing activities. The gelsetis will fill the hills of the lucchesia, from the valley of the serchio to the city untill the second world war, where we still have testimony of a diffused activity, gone then decreasing.


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