Posts Tagged ‘Justinian’

The unbearable sadness of the silkworm moth.

January 17, 2020

Image result for Silkworm moth

As I was ironing my Ralph Lauren shirt for the second time, after patching the inside of the torn sleeve as well as the outside, it occurred to me, that the softness of this shirt could meant it might have been woven from silk. Can one imagine wearing a silk shirt? I checked on the back of the collar but it tells me curtly; 100% cotton, Made in China! At least it was made in a country where the silk industry preceded that in the west by more than two thousands years before the Christian calendar, under the rule of emperor Huangh Ti. who assigned his wife, His-ling-shi, to devise a scheme whereby she take the silkworms into her own garden in which the necessary Mulberry trees were growing in great numbers.

This then marked the beginning of an industry that propelled China to be synonymous with an inexhaustible wealth of silk. Merchants in silk would travel the heights and widths of Asia selling the products of that small mulberry leaf eating insect as if their lives depended on it. Well, of course the insects did and it was by no little efforts of the many following empresses who took the task of manually feeding the worms knowing full well that they in a very short time turn they would perform the metamorphosis needed to become the cocoon where within another short period it became a moth. Each cocoon holds a mile long thread of silk. Can you imagine the joy of the moth when it finally breaks free to conquer the world and able to fly and get away from those bloody mulberry trees and empresses?

That’s what I thought too…but it has a sad ending. When the moths leave it seems that all they are interested in is mating. They have special antenna which tells them who is male or female. They just live long enough to mate. The male after mating sinks into a deep and very melancholic mood and no amount of counsel helps. He dies deeply depressed almost within the post coitus languor. The female still scurries along a bit with just enough time to lay her,  hopefully fertilised eggs, several hundreds of them. She then passes as well.

As a passing note, I seem to remember that the silk industry was guarded by China for thousands of years and it was on punishment of death if anyone informed other empires of the secrets of this amazing silk worm moth, known today as the Bombyx mori.  Legends have it that the secrets of the silk worm was introduced by two Persian friars during the Byzantine Emperor Justinian reign. The cocoons were smuggled inside the hollows of their walking canes. Both friars had worked and lived in China for a long time and knew where the magic of silk came from.

So, there you have it, friends. It seems the sole purpose of the silkworm moth is to propagate and nothing more. One keeps wondering if a male Silk worm moth decides to stay celibate. Would that choice prolong his life? It might be prudent to investigate. The same of course for the female, except she might still be burdened by her eggs, infertile as they may well be.

So much to discover.