Origin of Kesi Silk

The kesi silk is a variety of Chinese silk weaving, complicated in workmanship but rich in expression. When the troops of Jin Dynasty went to invade the Song Dynasty, a youngest named Qiaosheng at Likou, Suzhou, lived on weaving juan (a kind of thin and tough silk) but due to the chaos caused by the war he had to change his occupation to trade shred with sweets. Once from the rags he traded with sweets he found a piece of shred with the same flower-and-bird pattern on the reverse and the obverse sides, looking neither like brocade nor like embroider, and the pattern was very soft and pleasing to the eye. He decided to learn this kind of workmanship. One day by a lotus pond Qiaosheng helped a girl fish up the clothes washed away by the water. For expressing her thanks, the girl gave him a lotus seed. On returning home, he put the lotus seed into a vat and it began to put forth lotus flowers of various colors. All of a sudden, he found the girl in the lotus vat weaving silk cloth stealthily. The girl wrung juice out of the lotusflowers and lotus leaves she had gathered and dyed the fibers of different colors, from light-colored to deep-colored, into the shuttles and arranged them in alignment in front of the loom. The fiber of the lotus root in the shuttles became silk fiber. She changed the shuttles one after another, weaving in a very meticulous way. Qiaosheng was so surprised that he jumped out from behind the door. Knowing that her secret was discovered, the girl stayed at Qiaosheng’s home and passed on her skill to him. They named this kind of weaving method “hesi,” meaning the silk woven jointly by them. As the people of Suzhou pronounced the word “he” as “ke,” people called it “kesi silk” afterwards.

 

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