Beauty as a concept does have billions of facets, interpretations, opinions..; some consider it as innate, some see it even in the ugliest and creepiest things, others believe that every little thing do necessarily need to own a bit, a glimpse, a sparkle of it.
Today’s topic is about ethereal and quintessential beauty; the one of butterflies. But not necessarily the ordinary hyper-coloured and elegant ones, whereas we would talk about those tiny white creatures that the most consider everything but nice, cute and eye-catching, but not for us.
Originally made in China, it is back in 3000 b.C. when they started blossoming and showing their potential; indeed, it happened in one of the most colourful, ethereal, flowered and take breathing gardens that the Old World knew, even if just by hearsay.
According to the legend, it was Xi Ling Shi, Emperor Huang Di’s wife, to discover them.
It was a beautiful spring day, the empress was elegantly sitting on her garden ground under a bunch of flourishing mulberry trees while sipping a cup of excellent Oolong infusion; all of a sudden, something fell into her cup and immediately started loosen itself, showing the longest, strongest and whiter thread she had ever seen. That was the moment when the empress figured out that those tiny ugly caterpillars that so much loved gnawing her beautiful mulberries where not just something to get rid of, but the most precious and valuable thing she could had ever imagined.
Bombyx mori is their official name, as ugly as the cocoon itself but maybe so bad to generate by retaliation or thanks to karma, who knows, one of the most expensive and luxurious products in the world.
At that time, exactly like nowadays, silk was so valuable to cost unbelievable prices. It decorated bodies, living rooms, thrones and imperial rooms; it caused conflicts and uncountable courts affairs.
Merchants guarded it like golden ingots and started struggling themselves to bring it to Europe and introduce it to kings and queens, princesses and lords.
It was right in that moment that the necessity of a straight and easy passable way started to rise.
The result was the so-called Silk Road, a 8k kilometres path that from the contemporary city of Xi’an (Chang’an at the time) crossed the whole Eurasia to end at the Roman Empire, accompanying all those bursty and plenty caravans in their endless and excruciating journey.
Nowadays, this particular fabric would be vulgarly defined as a Limited Edition one, something so valuable to trigger an overwhelming increase of costs and prices in an inverse proportion with its availability.
What is more, children would assure us that if an object is made out of an highly expensive and valuable raw material, transitivity indeed says that this last one would necessarily inherit each one of its original properties. Therefore, it is nothing out of the blue if silk accessories, foulards, chemises, trousers, and so on and so forth, do own a certain retail price.
Nevertheless, price doesn’t necessarily mean or identify the quality status. If on the one hand it could derive from marketing strategies, brand image etc, on the other hand, especially when talking about new born, small and local brands, it could be determined by the meticulous research and imply of raw materials and high rather than sustainable production choices.
Eventually, do I prefer to spend tot on a medium quality accessory but wear a highly recognisable status symbol identifier logo or do I prefer a likewise expensive, of a less famous but local and sustainable one?
The thing is that all butterflies once were caterpillars.