From Beijing, Xian can be reached by a 1 1/2 hour plane trip or an overnight train ride to the south west of the Capitol, a distance of 1200 kilometers. The modern trains of today are very comfortable and rather luxurious. It is possible to get a "soft" sleeper for two with en suite, television, easy chair and computer power.

On both China trips, Xian was a highlight especially to see the Terracotta Warriors. As far as textiles go, the clay statues are an accurate depiction of what the warriors were wearing. Their hair styles, uniforms and facial features are so detailed that each type of soldier and officer can be identified by those details. Although most statues are basically grey, they are some warriors that still retain a trace of pigment showing that originally they were fully coloured.


Not far from the Warriors is a silk store set up to give an educational experience in silk culture. The silk Bombyx mori cocoons are soaked in hot water with washing soda and soap to degum the fibre. Seracin is a gum that hold the cocoon together, but removing it makes the fibre easily stretchable onto a shape such as a bell like frame. Layer after layer is added. These "caps" are used for fibre to spin in many countries. Originally they were used as padding for clothing and provide much warmth. When they are stretched on a square frame, they are called hankies and are also used for spinning.

Spun silk is not as fine or smooth as reeled silk, which also uses the soaked cocoons. However the end of a fine filament is found and joined with around 6 filaments to be reeled into a fine continuous thread. At the silk store, they also had silk reeling machinery which was used purely for demonstration.

Although the store features every type of garment possibly made in silk, one of their main products is bedding made from cocoons that have been stretched out in fine filaments to form rectangles of superfine silk web. Many layers are place on top of each other until the desired thickness is achieved. Quilts are made in many weights and priced accordingly. The silk web is placed in a cotton cover, but many designs of silk outer covers are available.

In addition to quilts, pillows are also made with silk "caps" as their filling. I have acquired one and will see how it holds its shape with time.


silk handkercheives


2010 Xian shop window with mannequins having hair styles like the Terracotta Warriors. Clothing is very contemporary.


Patchwork vests being sold on the streets in Xian in 1987.