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Adapted by Judy Nash for KS1 Pupils and Pre-Schools

Produced for the Festival of Storytelling Weekend 24th - 26th July 2009
Celebrating the Cultural Olympiad

Copyright Judy Nash & Sherborne Museum

Lady Hsi-Ling-Shih loved her garden. Her name was Leizu. She lived in China a very long time ago.

In the heat of the day she often walked further in search of shade.

Her husband, the Yellow Emperor of China, had planted many mulberry trees. She would search for a leafy one to sit under that cast a large patch of shade on the ground.

One day she walked towards her favourite tree and discovered there was hardly any shade at all!

The leaves were full of holes. She looked underneath one. There was nothing there. She lifted another. It looked like a leaf skeleton. Nothing moved.

Draw a picture of Leizu looking at the mulberry trees

Leizu walked further and chose another tree. She sat and thought about what could be to blame.

The next day she found the leaves of that tree had been eaten too. The tree kept its secret. The leaves were full of holes but nothing moved.

That evening Leizu spoke to her husband, the Emperor, about the mystery creature that was eating his mulberry leaves. He was very sad. He sent two of his guards to keep watch but they could not solve the mystery.

Draw a picture of what you think is eating the mulberry leaves

The next day Leizu took a cup of her favourite tea with her.

It was hard to find a tree with enough leaves to cast a little shade. She sat down and raised her cup towards her lips.
Something fell from the tree into her cup. It looked like a hard white nut but as she watched something strange began to happen. The outside softened and Leizu saw a thread.

She put a finger in the cup and wound the thread around her finger. As she pulled, the thread got longer and longer. Leizu stood up and walked backwards. The thread just grew and grew.

Draw a picture of what you think happened next

Leizu looked back at the tree she had been sitting under. She was so surprised! Now she was standing further away she could see the tree was full of the hard white nuts.

She showed the thread to her husband. They walked together amongst the mulberry trees. Then they made a discovery! Small caterpillars were eating some of the leaves. They were very small.

The next day Leizu saw the caterpillars were much bigger. They grew and grew and three weeks later she saw they had started to spin a thread. The thread was just like the one she had unwound from the hard white nut.

Then Leizu had an idea. She asked her husband to plant some more mulberry trees. When the leaves began to disappear she watched carefully and waited patiently.

One day she was rewarded and she gathered the hard white nuts. The fine thread was unwound and spun into silk.

The silk thread was woven into a very special material that was very popular in China and soon in other countries across the world.

Silk Moth Engraving
Silk Moth Engraving

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