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Sericum, the face cream and the legend of silk

Among the myths and legends of Chinese history, Lei Zu, a Concubine of the Chinese ancient Emperor Xuanyuan, is recognized as the ancestor of sericulture and silk spinning.

There is a beautiful story telling how Lei Zu was drinking in a wild mulberry bush when some wild cocoons fell in her bowl. When she tried to fish out the cocoons, she found it stretched in a never-ending line. Then she began to rear wild silkworms and spun to knit. Afterwards, she was worshipped as “Goddess of Silkworms” by Chinese people.

There is an interesting story in Sulayman’s Journey to the East.

An Arabian merchant visited an official of Tang Dynasty(AD 618-907), he found a black mole in the official’s chest. He could hardly believe it, so he stared at his chest for quite a while. Until the
official asked that he thought there was something wrong with his eyes, because he could see the mole under two layers of clothing! He told his doubt to the official and the official burst into a great laughter. After being showed the silk costume, the merchant finally realized how thin the silk was and became crazy about this amazing textile.

When talking about the silk going abroad, one has to mention the world-renowned Silk Road. During the long historical process, it’s the Silk Road that connects China and the countries of Central and Western Asia, which led to wonderful cultural exchange and expanding of silk spinning handicraft.
Since the 5th Century BC, China has exported silk to Western countries. Because of the exquisite handicraft and beautiful design, Chinese silk was commended as the “creature from heaven”. At that time, Greeks and Romans called China “Serica” and Chinese people “Seris”, both of which were derived from the name of silk——“Serge”.

It is noted in a Western historical book that, once the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar went to theatre with a silk robe, he successfully distracted all the people’s attention from the show to his gorgeous costume.

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