Mankind: The Story of All of Us TV - David Attenborough TV - Mark Williams TV - Ronald Top TV - Jane Birkin - Clare Hibbert - R K Datta -
Silk: It’s a secret China has guarded for over a thousand years ... China still remains the world’s biggest silk producer … the Silk Road. Mankind: The Story of All of Us III, History Channel 2012
Only spiders and insects have the ability to produce silk. David Attenborough, The Trials of Life VI: Home Making, BBC 1990
They’re lures and they can be lethal ... This is silk. David Attenborough, Life in the Undergrowth III: The Silk Spinners, BBC 2005
Silk really is an extraordinary material. It’s stronger than a steel thread ... It can stretch up to twice its length. ibid.
Each leg has about a hundred and fifty tiny silk ejectors. ibid.
Trap-door spider ... This is the most ancient of living spiders. ibid.
The biggest and strongest webs are those made by nephila: golden orb web spiders of the tropics: they may be several metres across. ibid.
In Australia there is a species of spider that has taken web construction a stage further still: it builds not just in two dimensions but in three. ibid.
A creature that hunts in packs. This enormous web above me contains thousands of spiders ... they can kill prey many times their own size. ibid.
This wonderful shimmering carpet of gossamer ... It’s Autumn in England. ibid.
Silk production is a slow laborious process. It originated in China 4,000 years ago. Mark Williams, More Industrial Revelations s2e9: Cutting It Fine, Discovery 2005
But the simple punch-card went on to revolutionise much more than weaving. ibid.
The elaborately decorated material was in such demand that by the late 1700s hand-woven Lyon silk made up over a third of France’s exports. Ronald Top, Industrial Revelations s3e10: The European Story: King Silk, Discovery 2005
Jacquard was back in business. In 1804 Napoleon called him to Paris in order to mechanise the Lyon silk industry. It was there that Jacquard made a surprise discovery ... the prototype to an automatic loom. ibid.
The new and improved Jacquard loom: the big change that Jacquard had made ... The punch-cards now control the loom. ibid.
They realised Jacquard’s system could be applied to any fabric; they decided to use it. And by 1833 the British had over a hundred thousand looms based on Jacquard’s system, driving the world’s biggest textile trade. ibid.
My mother was right: when you’ve got nothing left, all you can do is get into silk underwear and start reading Proust. Jane Birkin
China has been famous for its silk for thousands of years. The main trade route linking China to the West was even known as the Silk Road. The ancient Romans prized Chinese silk and imported both thread and cloth. The Chinese kept their methods of silk production a closely held secret, and so Westerners were unable to make their own. Knowledge of silk-making gradually spread west after two Persian monks smuggled some silk worm eggs out of China in the 6th century C.E. However, China remained the world’s key producer. Clare Hibbert, Chinese Art & Culture
The ancient Chinese method of silk-making, or sericulture, involved hatching many silk moth eggs at the same time. The caterpillars were then kept on bamboo trays and fed hand-picked mulberry leaves. Some cocoons were allowed to develop into adult moths so that they could produce more eggs. The rest were dropped into boiling water, which made each cocoon unwind to produce a single fiber that could be over half mile (nearly a kilometer long) ibid.
The history of silk development spans through centuries and can be traced around the world’s very ancient trade route called ‘Silk Road’. A UNESCO inspired team trekked this obscure yet historical caravan tract called ‘Silk Road’, which began in China, passed through Tashkent, Baghdad, Damascus, Istanbul and reached European shores. Since the beginning of the Christian era (by 126 B.C.) silk has been the most colourful of world caravans. Fabulous silks from China and India were carried to Europe through this 6400-kilometre-long road. R K Datta, Global Silk Industry