For the last 60 years the Tsiakiri Silk House has been active in the production of silk in Soufli. Now they have created a jewel in the centre of the town, a unique space to show off and preserve the rich tradition of silk weaving and production in the area.
The exhibits are in working order and the visitor will be able to get a taste of what it meant to work in the silk industry from silk reeling and processing machines to weaving both with power and hand looms. Alongside the exhibits there are videos demonstrating the various stages in the manufacture of silk from sericulture (the rearing of silkworms) to the finished product. Special tours and demonstrations are available for schools and organised groups. The museum has been fitted with the latest technology for presentations and also hosts a multilingual electronic guiding system (XENAGOS) to assist visitors in their tour of the museum.
The Art of Silk Museum will also host exhibitions and other artistic and cultural events.
This outfit was made in 1903 and was worn for the first time by Eleni Papatsaroucha.
An exhibition of photographs and archival material at the Soufli Municipal Museum from 2nd September to 14th October 2012.
- An Exhibition of Photos and Archival Material from the silk factories of Soufli in the 20th Century.
Children’s Event for the financial support of the Association of Children with Autism.
The history of silk is lost in the mists of time. We know from archeological evidence that silk was being cultivated in China as long ago as the 4th millennium BC and that the silkworms used were of the species Bombyx mori, the same species we use today.
According to Chinese tradition, the history of silk begins in the 27th century BC, when a silk worm’s cocoon fell into the tea cup of the empress Leizu. Wishing to extract it from her drink, the young girl of fourteen began to unroll the thread of the cocoon. She then had the idea to weave it. Having observed the life of the silk worm on the recommendation of her husband, the Yellow Emperor, she began to instruct her entourage the art of raising silk worms, sericulture. From this point on, the girl became the goddess of silk in Chinese Mythology.
The Chinese kept the truth about silk a mystery for nearly 2000 years until about the 1st century AD when the eggs of the silkworm were smuggled out of China in the hair of a princess who was promised to a prince of Khotan. She could not bear to be without her beloved silk so took it with her, finally breaking the imperial ban on silkworm exportation. Over the centuries the secret of sericulture spread to Japan and India.
Silk cloth was exported from China from at least the 2nd millennium BC via the “silk road” (a variety of routes leading over the barren wastes of the eastern deserts to the civilizations in the west and around the Mediterranean) and was venerated by all who saw it. Its great beauty and strength were highly prized and it was worth more than its own weight in gold.
The military campaigns of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC opened the way for silk to become better known to the ancient Greeks and Romans.
The sale of silk in the west was controlled by Persian and Syrian merchants until at least the 5th century AD. It was then that the Roman emperor Justinian sent two Nestorian monks as Christian missionaries to China with orders to smuggle out silkworm eggs and the seeds of the mulberry tree in hollowed out walking canes. They succeeded, and so by 554BC the mystery of sericulture arrived in Constantinople and the practice of sericulture spread throughout Byzantium and also through the Arab world.
The crusades spread the cultivation of silk through Europe where it became a booming industry in Italy in the middle ages. By the 16th century sericulture and silk weaving were established in France.
By the late 18th century, with the advent of the industrial revolution, silk was being produced in the manufacturing hubs in France (Lyon, Tours & Avignon) and Italy (Genoa, Venice and Como). The outbreak of epidemics of several deadly silkworm diseases in France during the early 19th century caused a massive drop in production from which the area never fully recovered. This, on the other hand, was undoubtedly a major factor in the massive growth of silk production in Greece and especially around Soufli in that period, and the quality of Greek silk surpassed that of France and Italy. In 1882 the first synthetic thread was exhibited at the Paris Fair and marked the beginning of the steady decline in silk’s fortunes.
For several centuries the production of silk was more or less a cottage industry for the residents of prefecture of Adrianople (now Erdine), which included Soufli. In 1823-24 an English manufacturer showed their interest in buying locally processed silk and sent the prices skyrocketing. This was also at the time of the terrible epidemics that destroyed most of the French and Italian production. The increased interest in cocoons gave the impulsion for the massive local increase in sericulture. The banks of the Evros river were ideal for Mulberry plantation and consequently the plain around Soufli became a huge mulberry orchard. Almost all the residents of Soufli were involved in the production of silk as producers, factory workers or merchants. By 1880 Soufli was responsible for 40% of the cocoons produced in the whole Prefecture of Andrianople.
|Address 199 Vasileos Georgiou Str,
Phone +(30) 25540 – 22371
|Daily 09:00 – 21:00.
Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays Open.