China

 

Beijing...Yuanlong Silk Factory
August 3, 2007

To view a larger size image simply click on the thumbnail of the picture.

 
Yuanlong Silk Tour

China is well-known for its silk so we were very fortunate to be able to visit a silk factory. The building was very large and there were many goods to purchase. Of course, we all bought a little something. Miss Harrison made the biggest purchase with a comforter for her bed. Think about this...she purchased it in August, and it is due to arrive in the United States by December!


The building was very large and had many floors. Each floor had many different products that could be purchased. Every single step of the way the merchants are trying to convince you to buy something.

There were two large dragons perches on either side of the steps that led into the silk factory. Pictured, also, is a make-shift motorized cart that is commonly seen on the streets.

Upon entering the upstairs of the silk factory you see this very large, vibrant display of the silk process. I learned that silk is produced from unhatched cocoons of silkworms. It was very amazing.

This was quite an interesting display. This vat is filled with cocoons. They vary in size. The smaller cocoons have only one pupa inside. The larger cocoons have two.

Have you ever seen the life stages of a silkworm? Well, this display shows the stages. To learn more about the life cycle of the silkworm, visit This slide show created by a third grade class in Union City California.

The Life Cycle of the Silkworm


This display shows the raw silk made from the cocoons. I couldn't believe how pure white this silk was. I guess the woman in the next picture is very good at what she does!

The first stage in the silk production process is to pull out the cocoons that are not pure white in color. This is done by inspecting the cocoons as they pass by on the spinning machine.

Prior to beginning the spinning process, the cocoons are steamed in hot water. As the silk is spun from the cocoon a worker is stationed to remove the dead pupa from the cocoon as it unwinds.

Silk that is going to be used for quilt batting, like Miss Harrison purchased, is processed a bit differently. The cocoons are cracked open and then the silk is stretched over an arch, as you can see in this picture. It was very interesting to watch.

This merchant is showing us a piece of silk that just came off of the arch. It was very soft and pliable, yet very strong and not easily broken.

This was so much fun. After the silk is stretched over the small arch, it is taken and stretched by four women into a larger piece. They are very skilled at what they do. They have to pull and stretch so that the piece stretches evenly to bed. 

We were given a piece of silk to try to stretch with the women. You would not believe what it ended up looking like! We didn't get a picture because the three of us were busy stretching, but the workers just shook their heads and had pity on us!!!

Our guide, Lisa, has quite a laugh watching us at the silk factory.

We purchased silk wall hangings that were beautiful and quite a bargain.

This card was given to each of us upon entering the silk store.

Sales receipt for goods purchased.
   
 
Interesting Facts
  • Silk was discovered in China thousands of years ago.

  • One cocoon can yield 1,000 meters of silk.

  • 111 cocoons are needed to make a man's tie.

  • 630 cocoons are needed to make a woman's blouse.

  • Silkworms only eat mulberry leaves.

 
Click here to see pictures taken by another traveler at a silk factory in Suzhou.
 
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Marie L. Smith
Red Creek Central School District
Margaret W. Cuyler Elementary School
Red Creek, NY 13143
Last updated 1/20/08