Vietnamese silk is shiny, soft and luxurious. But to get those silk rulers is a process with dozens of stages that require meticulousness and absolute precision, although today with the support of machines, still associated with manual labor. diligence, and the experience passed down through generations of craftsmen.
Vietnam silk production process
Silk production process includes the main stages: planting mulberry, raising silkworms, cocoons, incubating silk, spinning and weaving silk, dyeing.
“Sweat poured into the garden
“Green mulberry, good rice, and silk”
Vietnamese silk is a product of silkworms that eat mulberry leaves, so growing mulberry is the first step in silk production. Silkworms are only healthy and productive, giving good quality silk when eating clean mulberry leaves. Strawberries are old, rich in water, high in protein, young for their age…. All can cause silkworms to develop unevenly, easily infected with diseases, thin cocoons…
So growers must choose suitable planting soil for plant varieties, fertile soil, ensure good drainage, no pollution, and stay away from areas with factories and chemicals. Strawberries should be planted separately, not interspersed with rice, vegetables, tobacco, chili… or other crops; planted with appropriate density, with balanced fertilization, against fungi and pests in a natural way, and with limited use of pesticides.
“My silkworms are free today
Strawberry picking, I was busy all day yesterday.”
Silkworm rearing is the most important step in the silk production process. The output product of the silkworm rearing process is both a direct seed source for farmers and an input material for silk nursery and silk weaving.
Silkworms are inherently sensitive to environmental conditions, so the place to raise silkworms must be cool, quiet, free of unpleasant odors, have a screen against flies, be disinfected, and need to adjust temperature and humidity. and reasonable lighting, silkworm farming tools must also be clean.
The average life cycle of a silkworm from hatching to releasing silk is about 23-25 days, and undergoes 4 molting times. Each molt, silkworms are counted 1 year more. Silkworms eat throughout the day and night, about 6-16 meals depending on the maturity. However, about 2 days before molting, silkworms stop eating (also known as sleeping silkworms).
Mulberry leaves for silkworms must be picked when it is cool, not when there is rain or wet dew. Yellow, dirty, wet, infected, crushed leaves cannot be used. Leaves must be picked according to the age of silkworms: 1 to 3 year old silkworms eat young mulberry leaves that are high in protein, soft, low in fiber, and finely chopped like pipe tobacco; 4 year old silkworms eat mulberry leaves, dark green color; 5 year old silkworm needs older, more fibrous mulberry leaves.
Silkworm farmers continuously “eat rice standing” at the age of 5 – the age of silkworms eats fastest and strongest. At this time, in the silkworm rearing house, one can always hear the murmur of hundreds of silkworm teeth grinding against mulberry leaves.
Along with ensuring enough mulberry leaves for silkworms to “eat freely”, silkworm farmers also often have to change silkworm manure to ensure hygiene, and need to pay attention to spraying mulberry leaves for silkworms to eat to fight diseases, and then prevent disease. except for ants, flies, lizards…
Close the cocoon
“The silkworm eats the green mulberry leaves
Release white thread, fragile yellow thread”
5-year-old silkworms eat mulberry leaves fully, after 6-8 days, they will ripen, stop eating mulberry leaves, tend to crawl to find a suitable place to nest. Ripe silkworms are smooth, thin skin, glossy, slightly yellow in color. When at least 1/3 of the silkworm’s body is transparent, the silkworm is ready for cocoons.
Farmers must prepare to avoid it, until the silkworms are ripe, they should quickly catch the silkworms to avoid the silkworm cocoons from sticking together. Then avoid “sunshine” and “drying” so that the cocoon is dry and fragrant, so that when incubating the cocoon silk does not melt, producing shiny silk.
Silkworms release silk from the outside to the inside, first with a few rings of raw silk wrapped around the outside to shape the cocoon. Regularly for four consecutive days, the silkworm rotates its body in a figure 8 motion about 300,000 times continuously, releases a silk thread 800-1000m long, wraps around itself to form a cocoon, and then pupates.
At this time, silkworm farmers remove the cocoons and select some large cocoons to breed for the next generation; remove dirty, thin, rotten, perforated cocoons; Transfer standard cocoons to silk nursery.
“The silkworm is all over the place
Carrying every drop of sunshine filled with silk”
Silk incubation is the process of pulling silk from the cocoon into silk thread. All closed cocoons must be incubated in about 5 days, because if it is slow, the silkworm will turn into a moth that bites the cocoons out. Thus, the silk thread will be broken, unable to grow into silk weaving anymore, can only be pulled into coarser yarn, which also takes more work.
To incubate silk, you need to first drop the cocoons into boiling water and stir well to soften the cocoons and peel off the cocoons, then find the original silk termites to draw the silk thread. The nurse pulls out about 10 silk threads from 10 cocoons, twists them into 1 silk thread, and wraps that thread on a specialized spindle. Next, the silk is run on a circular reel, rolled into live silk jars, and then brought out to dry in the sun.
“The shuttle’s shadow casts a glittering gaze
Sending love, my hands weave silk”
Traditional Vietnamese weaving is a combination and mixing of warp and weft yarns, and the weavers have to use both hands and feet at the same time, as the poet Ho Xuan Huong described:
Two feet pedal down the power to remind
One-sided stabbing like fast
The young silk that has been nursed will be twisted together in a different way and the number of threads is not the same, producing different types of silk with different names and qualities. These silks, combined with the weaving patterns from delicate hands and the constant creativity of the Vietnamese people, have created silk fabrics that are diverse in quality and characteristics:
“Make all kinds of goods
Single row, double row vertical and horizontal
Turn, iron, receive, silk, tortoise…
Then, so on, in brocade, in size, in silk, in ice, in fancy.”
Dyeing for silk fabric
Woven silk is only ivory white or chicken fat yellow of silk, called rustic silk. Silk is quite rough and hard, so before dyeing, it needs to be soaked in hot water to clean all the glue on the silk, this stage is called silkworm.
According to the traditional manual method, the finished silk is soaked in a dye solution made from natural materials (such as brown tubers, conspicuous seeds, coal, antler, etc.) for 2-3 days. Then discharge, color, dry, dye again for the second, third time… to get the right color as you want. To make silk fabrics more beautiful and eye-catching, rustic silk is color treated according to each dyer’s own secrets to create monochromatic, multicolored or beautifully patterned silk.
Today’s modern technology and dyeing can shorten the time and process of dyeing silk, producing strange, vibrant and richer textures and colors. However, the manual dyeing technique is still highly appreciated by the rustic, safe materials and especially the traditional value that cannot be replaced.
Talking about the silk production process, I know that “the profession is also very elaborate”. The shiny, smooth and luxurious beauty of each Vietnamese silk is the crystallization of the silkworms’ lifetime of “guts out and release” of silkworms and so much enthusiasm, effort, time, and hardships of silkworms. professions. How precious it is!