Monday, December 26, 2011

So-Called Book of Mormon Anachronisms: Silk – Part II

Continuing from the last post, the key to understanding the great mystery and magic of silk, and China's domination of its production and promotion, lies with blind, flightless moth, species which lays 500 or more eggs in four to six days and dies soon after. The eggs are like pinpoints—one hundred of them weigh only one gram. From one ounce of eggs come about 30,000 worms which eat a ton of mulberry leaves and produce twelve pounds of raw silk.

Today, all silkworm moths live only in captivity, having been domesticated so that they can no longer survive independently in nature. All wild populations are extinct, although presumably old relatives exist in Asia.

In addition, silks are produced by several other insects, but only the silk of moth caterpillars produces the finest silk that is used for textile manufacturing. There has been some research into other silks, which differ at the molecular level. Silks are mainly produced by the larvae of insects undergoing complete metamorphosis but also by some adult insects such as webspinners (embioptera). Silk production is especially common in the Hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants), and is sometimes used in nest construction. Other types of arthropods produce silk, most notably various arachnids, such as spiders. In the last post, we discussed other silk worms that have been used, even in China, to produce silk.

Thus, while it can be said that Chinese silk from the Bombyx mori was not known outside China until 600 A.D., it cannot be said that silk was not made from other sources such as the commonly known examples above and in the last post. Nor can it be said that “it is a foregone conclusion that this material was unknown to the Americas before their discovery,” for much existed here that awed the Spaniards, and much else that was lost to the Lehi’s descendants called the Lamanites after they annihilated the Nephites.

Today, we understand, as the critics claim, that “silk is commonly understood to mean the material that is created from the cocoon of the Asian moth Bombyx mori.” However, in Book of Mormon times, silk was a cloth or fabric made from other sources. The Nephites, of course, did not know of the silk worm Bombyx mori, but may well have known of the Bombycidae and wild Saturniidae (see last post). From such, they were able to develop the finest fabrics and in some of the vicuna woolen goods the yarn was so fine and the weaving so exquisite that, according to Alfred Joseph Deberle and Edward P. Lanning, the cloth had the appearance of silk so that when some were sent back to the Spanish court they were pronounced finer than silk.

In addition, in Ecuador, the unique Kapok tree and its fibrous material obtained from the silk-cotton tree (Ceiba pentandra of the order Malvales and the family Malvaceae), which is native to Mexico, Central America, northern South America, and numerous other tropical areas), which can grow to 230 feet tall or more, with a straight, largely branchless trunk that culminates in a huge, spreading canopy, and buttress roots that can be taller than a grown person. These trees have a silky down that invests the seeds, which harvested today, is used for stuffing pillows, life jackets and acoustical insulation—but before the silkworm was known in the Western Hemisphere, was used for making silk threat and weaving into silk cloth.

The Ceiba species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species including the leaf-miner Bucculatrix ceibae which feeds exclusively on the genus.

It is disingenuous of critics, or anyone else, to believe they know everything simply because of what is “common knowledge” of the day. Common knowledge, of course, changes from time to time as new and greater understandings of antiquity become known. Today, we have Chiffon, China silk (habutai, ponagee), Crepe de Chine, Charmeuse, Jacquard, Douppioni, Noil, Raw silk, Tussah, and Shantung—and obviously in antiquity, they had different silks, though known only by that name, thus silk from China was the most highly prized. That is why when the Spaniards brought back silk from the Western Hemisphere, not made from silkworms, it was considered “finer than silk by the Spanish court.”

Naturally, like the other items in previous posts, silk was not an anachronism found in the Book of Mormon as critics want people to believe.

No comments:

Post a Comment