Legend says that the idea of silk first came to a Chinese empress when a silkworm cocoon fell into her tea and she watched the thread unravel. For thousands of years since, the Chinese kept the making of silk a secret, sentencing any traitors to the death penalty for perpetrators.
As silk became highly coveted for its beauty and comfort, the rest of the world craved to learn the craft.
“Earliest incidence of industrial espionage”
The Roman emperor sent two monks on a quest to learn the secret of China’s most prized commodity and this became one of the earliest incidences of industrial espionage. The monks succeeded in stealing and raising silkworms, spreading the craft of silk to the world. Although China’s monopoly came to an end, the centuries of practice still entitles China as the best manufacturer of silk.