The Silk Production in Konavle Region

From a brassiere to the breast panel embroidery

A century-old long tradition of silk production is still alive in the Dubrovnik’s southernmost region Konavle.

Girls from Konavle were breeding silkworm moths in their homes to make their own silk threads. Silk was used for making embroidered ornaments, like breast panel embroideries on female, and decorations on male parts of folk costumes.

During winter times, the silkworm eggs were preserved in a dry and dark place, usually in girl’s cupboards. The beginning of springtime was the time to take eggs out. For several days, women carried them in a handkerchief, inside their brassieres, on the constant temperature and humidity, to provoke caterpillars to hatch. When the tiny caterpillars got out, they were laid on a bed of mulberry leaves, to feed and grow.

A month later, caterpillars stop feeding. At that time, twigs were positioned nearby their beds, so they could start to make cocoons, from the saliva in their mouths. Those cocoons were the source of silk.

During the Homeland War the Konavle region was occupied by the former Yugoslav Army, and completely devastated, mostly burnt down to the ground before the army retreated. All the embroideries were lost, together with precious silkworm eggs.

The tradition was revived in the post-war period, and a new generation of girls in Konavle is learning how to make silk threads nowadays.

Did you know?

  • a silk thread has stronger bearing capacity than an equally thick steel wire
  • the fiber has an average width of 20 micrometers (1 millionth of a meter)
  • one single continuous filament (from one cocoon) reaches the length of up to 2 km
  • one pound of silkworm caterpillars eat up to 24.000 pounds of mulberry tree leaves in its lifetime
  • the silkworm increases its body mass 10.000 times within 4 weeks
  • a single silkworm can produce up to 15 m of fiber per minute
  • it takes approximately 11 pounds of cocoons to obtain 1 pound of silk
  • it takes around 150 cocoons to produce a single breast panel embroidery of the traditional costume
  • other animals produce silk also, like spiders, hornets or noble pens
  • each female moth releases approximately 500 eggs
  • silkworms don’t like scents from cooking and several types of flowers, but they like scents of rose and frankincense

If you would like to see the production of silk, join me on the excursion in Konavle where you will attend the demonstration of silk production and find out more about this interesting region.

A silk worm moth which just got out of the cocoon

The Silk Production in Konavle Region

From a brassiere to the breast panel embroidery

A century-old long tradition of silk production is still alive in the Dubrovnik’s southernmost region Konavle.

Girls from Konavle were breeding silkworm moths in their homes to make their own silk threads. Silk was used for making embroidered ornaments, like breast panel embroideries on female, and decorations on male parts of folk costumes.

During winter times, the silkworm eggs were preserved in a dry and dark place, usually in girl’s cupboards. The beginning of springtime was the time to take eggs out. For several days, women carried them in a handkerchief, inside their brassieres, on the constant temperature and humidity, to provoke caterpillars to hatch. When the tiny caterpillars got out, they were laid on a bed of mulberry leaves, to feed and grow.

A month later, caterpillars stop feeding. At that time, twigs were positioned nearby their beds, so they could start to make cocoons, from the saliva in their mouths. Those cocoons were the source of silk.

During the Homeland War the Konavle region was occupied by the former Yugoslav Army, and completely devastated, mostly burnt down to the ground before the army retreated. All the embroideries were lost, together with precious silkworm eggs.

The tradition was revived in the post-war period, and a new generation of girls in Konavle is learning how to make silk threads nowadays.

Did you know?

  • a silk thread has stronger bearing capacity than an equally thick steel wire
  • the fiber has an average width of 20 micrometers (1 millionth of a meter)
  • one single continuous filament (from one cocoon) reaches the length of up to 2 km
  • one pound of silkworm caterpillars eat up to 24.000 pounds of mulberry tree leaves in its lifetime
  • the silkworm increases its body mass 10.000 times within 4 weeks
  • a single silkworm can produce up to 15 m of fiber per minute
  • it takes approximately 11 pounds of cocoons to obtain 1 pound of silk
  • it takes around 150 cocoons to produce a single breast panel embroidery of the traditional costume
  • other animals produce silk also, like spiders, hornets or noble pens
  • each female moth releases approximately 500 eggs
  • silkworms don’t like scents from cooking and several types of flowers, but they like scents of rose and frankincense

If you would like to see the production of silk, join me on the excursion in Konavle where you will attend the demonstration of silk production and find out more about this interesting region.

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