Matching male and female silk moth caterpillars

Shanghai Guanfu Museum

Shanghai Guanfu Museum
Shanghai, China

Picking Mulberry Leaves, a collection of twelve scrolls in pith painting, depicts the complete process from raising silkworms to silk making: matching male and female caterpillars, washing silkworm graines paper sheet, the first sleep, the second sleep, the third sleep, picking mulberry leaves, silkworm getting on bed, heating the silkworm beds, cleaning cocoons in boiling water, spinning, dying and weaving, and making clothes. The first step is to match male and female caterpillars and spreading their graines over a sheet of paper. Then the sheet of paper is sterilized by soaking in lime water. Washing silkworm graines paper sheet not only cleanse the graines but also help wash out unhealthy silkworms. After three sleeps, silkworms are molted to be mature. Then, they are placed on bamboo beds and fed with a large quantity of fresh mulberry leaves. As silkworms get chilled when spinning, people use a fire pan to keep the worms warm, such process is called "heating the silkworm beds". After spinning, the cocoons are collected and boiled in water, after which they are dyed and weaved again to make clothes. This collection of pith painting titled Picking Mulberry Leaves greatly draw inspirations from the depiction of sericulture in Imperially Commissioned Illustrations of Agriculture and Sericulture.


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