Worms, silk. Silk, worms. You don’t realize how weird a combination this is until you see the dirty, bug-filled process it takes to birth the regal material!
Dalat, Vietnam has a number of silk factories, and it is absolutely worth it to tour one. The moment my tour guide, Lulu, and I walked through the dusty doors of the building, I started gasping.
Come along on the amazing tour of captions for each photo!
1. A sort of bookshelf to make silk worms comfortable enough to create their cocoons. Silk worm hotel!
2. Baskets and heaps of finished silk worm cocoons!
2. Cocoons where the male and female have emerged, mated, and laid eggs (little black dots) on the cocoons for new worms. Then the male dies (presumably happy).
3. Women boiling the cocoons in steaming hot water, then getting the end of the cocoon into a slurping-out-then-winding-around machine to unravel then spool the silk from the worm home!
Lulu asked, “Why do you think it’s only women here?” I correctly guessed: “Small hands!”
4. Machines that spin the new silk spools round and round to dry them.
5. My glamorous self forcibly modeling a silk spool around my neck… Lulu threw it on me and grabbed my camera!
6. An old-fashioned machine that uses a player-piano-style pattern programmer to weave the silk spool into a flowered cloth! Really incredible.
7. Silk drying outside (in front of a junk heap and a motorcycle!) that has just been dyed vibrant colors.
8. Bolts of finished yards of colored silk!
9. Stunning clothing fashioned (usually in Hoi An, Vietnam) out of the silk made in the factory.
What really took my breath away was the juxtaposition between the royal refinement of the silk and the down-and-dirty mechanics of how it’s born. I mean, you can’t get much grubbier than the following list: larvae, mating bugs, people toiling for hours over scalding water and wet insect homes, rickety old machines clacking in the dust, clotheslines in front of flea-bitten dogs and refuse, and all of this in a decidedly rustic setting. I had no idea it was like this!
This, however, illustrates why it’s so irritating when men idealize a gorgeous woman and put her on a holy pedestal without really getting to know her. (“Huh?” you say, “Where did that come from?” Hold on and hear me out, people.) Just like the silk, even the most precious-looking glamor usually has a story behind it with some dirt.
Rather than diminishing the beauty, learning its dusty past actually adds to its artistic value!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!