Sericulture – History
The long history of Silk commences in China where Silkworms lived in the wild on mulberry trees. According to Chinese writers, the art of Silkworm rearing was discovered accidentally by Empress Si Ling Chi in 2690 B.C when a cocoon fell into the boiling water for her tea preparation. In her effort to remove it from the boiling water she drew a thin and durable fiber – the first silk fiber.
Sericulture is the agricultural sector that involves mulberry cultivation and Silkworm rearing specifically for Silk production.
It is said that the secret of Silkworm rearing and Silk production was brought to the Byzantine Empire from China by two monks during their travels for the expansion of Christian religion under the orders of the then Emperor Ioustinianos. In 554 A.D they carried Silkworm eggs inside their hollow walking sticks and since then Silkworm rearing began to develop in Europe.
The Silk Roads date back to the Chan Dynasty (206-220 A.D). During the Byzantine times, the caravans with the valuable Silk fabrics began their journeys in China and travelled thousands of kilometers to reach Istanbul before their departure for the final Western European destinations. The Silk production technique was a closely kept secret within the Byzantine palace but it gradually leaked and was developed in Greece and especially in the Peloponnese that was nicknamed “Morias”. (Means mulberry trees).
Two centuries later and after the Arabs raided the Peloponnese, they conquered Spain and transferred the Silk production technique to Western Europe. In 1130 A.D Sericulture was introduced to Sicily and Southern France and in 1204 A.D to Venice. When Pope Clement V moved the papacy from Rome to Avignon in the early 14th century, Sericulture was introduced to France where the first Silk Reeling factories were built in Lyon and Tours during the times of Louis XI.