(c. 2640 BCE) ALMOST 5000 YEARS AGO SHE INVENTED A FABRIC AS TRANSLUCENT AS ICE AND AS LIGHT AS A CLOUD. REVEALING THE SECRET OF ITS CREATION BECAME PUNISHABLE BY DEATH.
Si Ling-Chi sat in the shade of her court garden, sipping tea beneath gracious mulberry trees. She heard a tiny rustle in the leaves above her, and the breeze suddenly dropped a white cocoon into her teacup. Instead of picking it out of her drink, she watched as the hot water began to dissolve it. Soon her tea was laced with shimmering filaments. And Si Ling-Chi imagined the luminous gown she might weave for her husband, Hoang-ti, the mythic “Yellow Emperor”. That is how Chinese tradition recounts the discovery of silk in the year 2700 BC. Si Ling-Chi went on to develop sericulture - the science of silk production. She learned to cultivate silkworms, to reel the fibers, to test it for strength and reliability, and how to weave it into garments.