Silk : queen of fibres – The concise story

Main Article Content

Apichart Sonthisombat
Peter Speakman


Most historians agree that silk and sericulture—the cultivation of silkworms – had their origin in china nearly 2500 BC when the Empress Si-Ling-Chi, a queen of the famous Emperor Huang-Ti, learned how to rear the silkworms and unwind their cocoons to produce fine filament fibres. After finding this knowledge, china kept it as a secret and held a monopoly in the silk industry for nearly 4,000 years. After this period, sericulture spread 10 Korea and Japan [1,2] and it also spread around the world. Details about silk history and sericulture can be found in references 3 to 7.

                Silk, called the ‘Queen of fibres’s, is a continuous protein fibre produced by  the silkworm so as to form its cocoon[8]. The silk fibre is also produced by some spiders belonging to the Arachnida family [1,9,10]. Unlike the silkworms’fibre, the spiders’ fibre cannot be commercially produced, and therefore, the silk fibre referred to in this work is the fibre coming from the silkworm.

                The silk fibre is a natural animal fibre. Unlike wool, silk contains a very small amount of a sulphur [11]. There are two main types of the silk worms:  mulberry silk (Bombyx mori), also called ‘cultivated silk’, and ‘wild silk’ of which Tussah silk is the most important representative. Mulberry silk is produced by silkworm larvae cultivated in provided habitats and fed with fleshy picked mulberry leaves. Cultivated silk is different from Tussah silk—native…

Article Details

How to Cite
Sonthisombat, A., & Speakman, P. (2003). Silk : queen of fibres – The concise story. Journal of Engineering, RMUTT, 4, 84–97. Retrieved from
Research Articles


Cook, J.G., Handbook of Textile Fibres (Natural Fibres), W.S. Cowell Ltd., Ipswich,1968, p.157.

Venugopal, B.R., Colourage, 38(1) 1991,46-47.

Crotch,W.J.B., A Silkmoth Rearer's Handbook,Lowe & Brydone(Printers) Ltd., London,1956, p.8-44.

Cook, J.G., Handbook of Textile Fibres (Natural Fibres), W.S. Cowell Ltd., Ipswich,1968, p.143-146.

Edited by Mauersberger, H.R., Matthews' Textile Fibres, John Wiley & Son Inc.,NewYork, 1954, p.749.

Bush, S., The Silk Industry, Shire Publication Co., Ltd., Buckinghamshire, 1987, p. 2-9.

Butler, E.A., Silkworms, Swan Sonneschein and Co., Lid., London, 1910, p. 1-14.

Edited by American Fabrics and Fashion Magazine, Encyclopaedia of Textiles, Third Edition, Prentice-Hall Inc., New Jersey,1980, p. 124-137.

Robson, R.M., in Silk; Composition, Structure and Properties, Handbook of Fibre Science and Technology, Vol. IV, Edited by Lewin, M.,and Pearce, E.M., Mercel Dekker Inc.,New York,1985, p. 649-700.

Edited by Mauersberger, H.R., Matthews'.Textile Fibres, John Wiley & Son Inc.,New York, 1954, p.762.

Dhavalikar, R.S., Journal of Scientific & Industrial Research, 21(C) 1962, 261-263.

Sandoz Colour Chronicle, October/December 1990, 1-4 and 16-19.

Gulrajani, M.L., Rev. Prog. Colouration, 22,1992,79-89. /current /Loko.doc

Venugapal, B.R., Colourage, 38(2) 1991,53-54.

Edited by Department of Thai Agriculture,Mulberry-Silkworm Monograph No.2,

Department of Thai Agriculture, Bangkok,1980, p. 49-61(in Thai).

McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology (Vol.12), Eighth Edition,McGrawHill Inc., New York, 1982,p. 415-416.

Changsarn, C., Chaicharemwong, T.,Dhanthamrongkul, P., and Nunthajit, S., The Utilisation of Waste Silk, Department of Textile and Chemical Engineering, Rajamangala

Institute of Technology, Bangkok, 1987,p. 3.12 (in Thai).

Peters, R.H., Textile Chemistry (Vol. I : The Chemistry of Fibres), Elsevier Publishing Company, New York, 1963, p. 302-304.

Edited by Mauersberger, H.R., Matthews' Textile Fibres, John Wiley & Son Inc.,New York, 1954, p.753-754.

Astbury, W.T., Fundamentals of Fibre Structure, Oxford University Press, Oxford,1933, p. 79.

The Textile Institute, Identification of Textile Materials, The Textile Institute, Manchester,1985, p. 245 and 247.

Likitbanakorn, P., M.Sc. Dissertation, The University of Leeds, 1991, p. 1-18.

Cook, J.G., Handbook of Textile Fibres (Natural Fibres), W.S. Cowell Ltd., Ipswich,1968, p.159-162.

Tsukada, M., and Hirabayashi, K., Journal of Polymer Science (Polymer Letters), 18,1980, 507-511.

Peters, R.H., Textile Chemistry Vol. I : The Chemistry of Fibres), Elsevier Publishing Company, New York, 1963, p. 311-313.

Edited by Mauersberger, H.R., Matthews' Textile Fibres, John Wiley & Son Inc.,New York, 1954, p. 796-799.

Sadov, F,, Korchagin, M. and Matetsky, A., Chemical Technology of Fibrous Materials, Mir Publishers, Moscow, 1978, p. 105-106.

Rheinberg, L., Textile Progress, 21(4) 1990, 4-5.

Das, S., The Indian Textile Journal, 102(12)1992, 42-46.

Lower, E.S., Textile Month, August 1988,9-12 and 14.

Dixit, M.D., Colourage, 37(10) 1990,44-51.

Sal, No Teudle Dyer & Primer, 26(7) 1993, 23-25.

Ppathulk s, THhe Indien Teuile eunidl, 108(5)1993,50-54.

Rayaredder,F.R.,Anil Kumar,K.K.,Pathak,S.,Shambulingappa,H.H.,Nagabhushanaiah,Y.y., and Sonwalkar, T.N,, The Indian Textile Journal, 103(4) 1993,70-72

Sligram, A.N., Shah, S.M., Shama, Ru,and Shukla, S.R., American Dyestuf Repntg,82(4) 1993, 34-38 and 49.

Gulrjani, M.L. Rev. Prog. Colouration,22 (1992), 79-89.

Brag, w.w., American Dyestuff Reportr,18(5) 1929, 174-180.

Bianchi, A.S., and Colonna, G.M., Meliand Textilberichte, 73(1) 1992. E30-E32 and 68-75.

Tsunokaye, R., JSDC, 48(1932),164-167.

Bray, W.W., Crowe, J.B. and Meeker, s. American Dyestuff Reporter, 17(1928),743-748.

Padhye, R.N., and Sukha, M., Sandoz Colour Chronicle, January/March 1992, 12.

Sandoz Colour Chronicle, January/March 1991, 3-9 and 20.

Shukla, S.R., Mathur, M., Narayan, A and Saligram, A.N.,, Colourage, 39(4) 1992,31-33.

Morgan, O.M,, and Seyferth, H., Americm Dyestuff Reporter, 29(1940), 616-62

Gupta, s,, Vemma, A. and Gupta, S, Indian Journal of Fibre & Textile Research, 17,1992,84-86.

Gulzjani, M.L., Sethi, S, and Gupltl. "JSDC, 108(2) 1992, 79-86.

Mishra, S.P., Venkidusamy, P. and Kumar.N.S., The Indian Textile Journal, 103(9)1993, 66-68.

Ashkenazi, B., Colourage, 39(6) 1992 p. 34-36.

Nalankilli, G., The Indian Textile Joural,103(3) 1992, 110-114.

Sharma, M., Colurage, 40(1), 1993,13-17.

Priniotakis, G., M.Sc.Dissertation, The University of Leeds, 1992, p. 34-35.

Novo Enzyme Product Ld,, Alcalase'2.5L and Esperase' 8.0L Leaflet.

Mehra, R.H., Mehra, A.R. and Mehra, A.R.,Colourage, Special Issue: Seminar on New

Trends in Wet Processing of Knit Goods Coimbatore, 20 th July 1992, 82-83.

Hofstetter, R., Melliand Textilberichte,72(5) 1991, E148-E153.

Shukla, S.R, Patel, R.S., and Saligram, A.N.,American Dyestuff Reporter, 81(9) 1992,22,24 and 81.

Gulrajani, M.L., and Sinha, S., JSDC,109(7/8) 1993,256-260.

Das, S., and Cowdhury, S.K., The Indian Textile Journal, 104(7) 1993, 34-36.

Tendulkar, S.R., and Mandavawalla, A.K.,Textile Dyer & Printer, 23(9) 1990,21-26.

Hall, D.M., Walker, R.P,, and Mora, E.C.,Textile Chemist & Colourist, 24(6) 1992,15-18.

Greaves, P.H., Rev. Prog. Colouration, 20,1990, 32-39.

Brzezinski, S., and Malinowska, G., Melliand Textilberichte, 70(4) 1989, E120-121 and 291-294.

Flensberg, H. and Hammers, H., Textil Praxis International, 43(7) 1988, 15-20.

Peters, R.H. , Textile Chemistry (Volume II : Impurities in Fibres and Purification of Fibres), Elsevier Publishing Company,New York, 1967, p. 323-325.

Chu, K.Y., and Provost, J.R., Rev. Prog.Colouration, 17, 1987, 23-28.

Kramrisch, B., International Dyer & Textile Printer, July 1988, p. 11.

Textile Dyer & Printer, 21(23) 1988, 33-34.

Putze, H., Textile Praxis International, 39(10) 1984, 10-13.

Sandoz Colour Chronicle, July/September 1991, 8-13.

Hofstetter, R., Sandoz Colour Chronicle, October/December 1988, 1-22 and 24.

Edited by Miles, L.W.C., Textile Printing,H. Charlesworth & Co., Ltd., Bradford,1981, p. 183 and 203.

Sadov, F., Korchagin, M. and Matetsky, A.,Chemical Technology of Fibrous Materials,Mir Publishers, Moscow, 1978, p. 306-307.

Trotman, E.R., Dyeing and Chemical Technology of Textile Fibres, Charles Griffin & Company Ltd., London, 1984, p. 86.

Das, S., JSDC, 108(11) 1992, 481-486.

Mehra, R.H., Mehra, A.R., and Mehra, A.R.,Colourage, 37(19) 1990,83-89.