Without the silkworm, the wonderful Chinese silks which will be on display at Katara would not exist.

The super Chinese silkworm is a silk moth living on the white mulberry tree unique to China. It can lay more than 500 eggs in four to six days and will die soon after. From 30 grams of eggs come about 30,000 worms which eat a ton of mulberry leaves and produce 5.5 kg of raw silk.

Over thousands of years of Chinese silk-making, the super silk-worm (Bombyxmori) evolved into the specialized silk producer it is today. It’s a moth which has lost its power to fly, and is only capable of mating and producing eggs for the next generation of silk producers.

The Mighty Silkworm

Producing silk is a long and difficult process which demands constant close attention. To produce high quality silk, there are two conditions. Firstly preventing the moth from hatching out and then perfecting the silkworm diet. The Chinese developed secret ways for both.

The technique and process of rearing silkworms were closely guarded secrets controlled by the Chinese authorities. Anyone who revealed the secrets or smuggled the silkworm eggs or cocoons outside of China would be punished by death. 

This simple creature produced a complex raw material that the Chinese developed into highly sophisticated textiles. The rest is art and history. This image is taken from the Silk exhibition that will be opening soon in Katara as part of the Qatar China 2016 Year of Culture.