Mulberry Silk in Thailand

Silk production is believed to have originated in the region of China more than 5,000 years ago. The fabric was originally reserved for emperors only, but later the use of silk spread throughout the country and to other parts in the Asian region.

Mulberry silkworm

There are a number of different silkworms, classified according to the type of silkworm that creates the cocoon. The most common type in Thailand is mulberry silkworm. Mulberry silkworms have been bread and evolved over thousands of years to get silkworms that produce cocoons that are thicker and larger than natural, wild silkworms. The relationship between silkworms and humans is not unlike that with other domesticated animals. The silkworms need human care because they can't fly to reproduce naturally since their bodies are too large and heavy in comparison to their wings.

Mulberry silkworms will eat only mulberry leaves as food. They will not eat any other plants. And they are very sensitive to chemicals. If there are chemical contaminants on the leaves, they are likely to die.

 Mulberry Silkworm Cocoons

Silk, however, may not be an acceptable choice for vegans that do not just don't eat any animal foods but also refrain from using consumer goods made from animals and who do not support activities that harm animals of any type. The silk production process requires the cocoons to be be boiled while the silkworms are still alive inside.

However, villagers raise silkworms in a sustainable way without creating waste that damages the environment. The villagers will use the silkworm droppings from raising mulberry silkworms as fertilizer for the mulberry trees, which again are used as a food source for the silkworms. And as mentioned earlier, mulberry silkworms are very sensitive to chemicals. The use of organic fertilizers obtained from nature is therefore essential in raising mulberry silk. And the mulberry silkworm itself is a source of high protein food for humans. Raising mulberry silkworms and producing silk in Thailand is a tradition that supports local communities as a way to earn income and to thrive as a strong community while preserving the local heritage and culture for future generations.


silk spinning

Distinguishing real silk from fake silk is actually very difficult for most people. Testing procedures include touching, listening to sounds, burning, or dissolving in copper sulphate to check to see if it is real silk or artificial silk. Artificial silk fibers are made from polyester that is derived from petroleum. When discarded, polyester will become waste that causes environmental problems, unlike natural fibers that are absorbed into nature again.

Silk is a natural fiber that is very tough and durable. It is not unusual to see that the next generation can still wear silk clothes that once belonged to their parents or grandparents.