Uzbekistan: Yodgorlik Silk Factory in Margilan
The town of Margilan in the Uzbek Fergana Valley was one of the major points on the ancient Silk Route, with caravans laden with silk and spices going from China to the Middle East and Europe. It grew into one of the major silk farming (sericulture) and silk production and weaving centers in the Middle Ages and the Margilan’s “Royal Silk” was prized in both west and east. To these days, the old Chinese and local technique are still used to produced the best hand-made fabrics and products. A tour of the factory is an absolutely must and one of the top things to do in Uzbekistan and Fergana Valley. A free tour takes you through all the step of silk production – from boiling the cocoons of the silkworms and soaking them in water, to extracting the silk thread by hand, to spinning it into finer and softer threads, to dyeing the silk with various natural vegetable and rock mineral dyes, to hand weaving the colorful fabric on traditional looms, as well as using pre-WWII German machines. It’s all beyond fascinating and feels super authentic, plus you get to buy some of the real stuff and the end, rather then cheap synthetic-looking Chinese stuff (despite the fact the silk came from China).