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(natural) silk (1)

proteinous secretions of the silk glands of the caterpillars of silkworm moths, which solidify in contact with air into a fine double fibre. We distinguish between real s., which is from the domesticated silkworm, and wild s. - tussah - from the semi-wild oak silkworm or Chinese silkworm. The caterpillar creates n. s. by pupation, in the course of which it forms a cocoon. The fibre on the surface of the cocoon, which cannot be reeled, is used in the production of worsted yarn; chappé silk yarn, noils and secondary waste are suitable forbourette yarn . The centre of the cocoon contains a valuable fibre, which is reeled together with so-called grége. Its length varies between 900 and 1000 m. Silk fibre is composed of 76 % of its own fibrin protein fibre and 22 % of the glue-like husk of sericin protein; the remainder is fats, wax and mineral salts. N. s. fibre is among the most noble, the strongest and the finest of the natural fibres; it has a high lustre and is very plastic. The home of n. s. is China, where it was known 5000 years ago. About 2000 years ago it spread to Korea, Japan and India. The main producers of n. s. today are Japan, China, states of the former USSR, Italy, Spain and India. In recent times n. s. has often been replaced by synthetic fibres. N. s. is used in the fabrics of ladies' dresses, men's shirts and neckties, sewing threads and parachutes.



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