Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Smuggling Silkworms...!

Often in ancient times, monopolies were held by certain countries in the growing and trading of many things, such as spices. One of the monopolies was, of all things, silkworms. Here is the story from Listverse.

Monks Smuggled Silkworms Across Asia In Hollowed-Out Walking Canes

Before the sixth century, the production and trading of silk was controlled by two monopolies. One was held by China, who possessed the only way of breeding the silkworms necessary to manufacture the silk. The other was held by Persia, who controlled the only trade route that passed through Asia to Europe.

In A.D. 552, two monks volunteered to travel to China and smuggle back silkworm eggs and larvae to Justinian I, the Byzantine Emperor. However, as silkworms are extremely fragile creatures which needed to be kept at a constant low temperature, the monks had to smuggle the silkworms back inside hollowed-out walking canes which also allowed them to escape with the creatures unhindered. Additionally, in order to feed the silkworms, the monks also had to carry potted mulberry shrubs with them, which they would have had to water with their own drinking water if required.

This adventure took two years, after which the Byzantines were able to create production bases around the country, which broke the previously lucrative monopolies of China and Persia.

It seems to me that if someone has a monopoly on a product, be it nutmeg or silkworms, there will always be folks who will find a way to smuggle the product out and break the monopoly. It may not be fair, but not much about business monopolies ever is.

Coffee out on the patio again this morning!


Gorges Smythe said...

Even Thomas Jefferson smuggled rice out of France. Seriously!

linda m said...

Business monopolies create smugglers. Monopolies are never fair and smugglers will always smuggle. Interesting about how the monks got the worms out in hollow canes.

JO said...

Very interesting post. Monks smuggling is even more interesting.

Still no rain but lots of wind and clouds here. Patio here I come.

HermitJim said...

Hey Gorges...
Seems like I heard or read that somewhere before. Sneaky ol' cuss, wasn't he?
Thanks for stopping by today!

Hey Linda...
It's almost like a giant game with these guys. Guess it's just a necessary evil at times.
Thanks for the visit today!

HermitJim said...

Hey Jo...
Sometimes the monks were involved in all sorts of political stuff.
Thanks, sweetie, for dropping by this morning!