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Jujube or Chinese date (Ziziphus jujube) with tussore silk moth larvae (Antheraea paphia)

Company School1770/1810

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

India is one of the largest silk-producing countries in the world. Silk is produced
by boiling silk moth cocoons to release the long fibres the caterpillar made
them from. The silk is then spun onto a reel. This caterpillar is probably the
South India small tussore moth which produces ‘tussar’ or ‘tasseh’ silk. Tussar
silk is coarser, but stronger than common silk, and is naturally reddish-brown
in colour.
William Roxburgh and his wife studied this moth and in 1797 he wrote a paper on the
possible commercialisation of this silk for Sir Joseph Banks and the East India
Company. It belongs to a different family from the Chinese silk moth (Bombyx mori) which has hairless, white
caterpillars and feeds primarily on the white mulberry.
The fruits of the jujube tree turn red as they ripen and are often dried and
candied, used for making teas and have numerous medicinal uses, particularly in
relieving stress.
Drawings of Indian plants and trees later named at the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew

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  • Title: Jujube or Chinese date (Ziziphus jujube) with tussore silk moth larvae (Antheraea paphia)
  • Date: 1770/1810
  • Physical Dimensions: w390 x h555 mm
  • Provenance: Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter City Council.
  • Type: Drawing
  • Medium: Watercolour
  • Artist: Company School

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