Silk is a natural protein fibre that can be woven into textile. The best-known silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori. Silk owes its shimmering appearance to the triangular prism-like structure of the silk fibre, which allows silk cloth to refract incoming light at different angles. According to a Chinese legend, the history of silk starts in 2640 BC, in the gardens of the Yellow Emperor, Huangdi.
Curious about what was destroying the leaves of his mulberry trees, he sent his wife Xi Ling-shi to the park. She found white bugs on the branches that were weaving shiny, soft cocoons. And as the story goes, one cocoon accidentally fell into her hot tea and… the filaments unwound. From her tea, she plucked one single long filament. Silk was “born”! Silk’s attractiveness and popularity throughout history is also attested to by the fact that the main trade route from Asia to Europe was named after it: “Silk Road”.
Silk production in the West was made possible only in 552 AD, after two monks brought the mulberry silkworm’s eggs to the Byzantine Emperor Justinian hidden in a bamboo stick. Under penalty of death, the inhabitants of today’s China kept the silk production method strictly confidential for around one millennium. Wherever it came, it could not be dispensed with ever again. Silk became and remained a unique and irreplaceable fabric with infinite uses, famed for its beauty, lightness, shimmer and cooling properties in the summer and warmth properties in the winter.
One of the numerous studies of silk fabric has found, among others, why silk has a beneficial effect on the skin. Sericin, a silk protein, adheres to the protein keratin in the skin and hair, creating a protective coat on the hair and skin that facilitates the prevention of dry skin and the formation of wrinkles. Another explanation for the beneficial effect of silk on the skin is that the silk-producing caterpillars feed on the mulberry tree fruit, rich with antioxidants known to aid cell regeneration.