Suzhou Silk Museum is located in Suzhou city, which people call 'Paradise on Earth'.The entire museum design is dignified and elegant - yet unconventional - combining a sense of ancient civilization with modern style. It is divided into eight parts: the Introductory Hall, the Ancient Exhibit Hall, the Silkworm-Rearing Room, the Silk Weaving Workshop, the Vegetable Garden, the Central Hall, the Neoteric (1840-1919) Exhibit Hall, and the Modern (1919-1949) Exhibit Hall. There are also retail stores for purchasing silk.
The dominant color of the museum is white, which represents the purity of silk. Strolling through the gate here, you can see a long and elegant white wall running from south to north, crossing an east-west passage symbolizing the Silk Road. The wall curves at the entrance, symbolizing the softness and elegance of the silk. In front of the wall, there are three tall sculptures made of white marble. The first shows a girl picking mulberry leaves (the silkworm's favorite food); the second, a girl washing the raw silk fabric; the third, a girl weaving. The three sculptures give the whole museum a dynamic beauty, imparting a sense of freshness to the construction and decoration style. A tower-shaped roof on the main building of the museum reminds people of the exotic flavor of the Silk Road.
Entering the Introductory Hall, the glorious history of silk catches your eyes first. In the center of the hall there is a stone wall on which four Chinese characters are carved. The characters are modeled on the inscriptions on bones or tortoise shells of the Shang Dynasty (16th-11th century BC). These four characters give a summary of all the exhibits of the museum, namely, silkworms, mulberry leaves and silks. On the left side of the hall, a huge stone fresco vividly describes the evolution and scientific achievements of silk development in ancient China. A statue of a beautiful woman stands close to this fresco. She is dressed in the ancient costume with a cocoon held in both hands. The expression in her eyes seems to tell people that she is thinking deeply. This is the legendary woman in Chinese history and fairytales: Lei Zu, wife of Yellow Emperor (Huangdi) as well as the first person who raised silkworms. On the right side of the wall, a group of large and vivid sculptures depict a camel caravan crossing a vast desert. It is reminiscent of the Silk Road, the road on which the earliest Eastern and Western exchanges took place. Looking up, countless milk-white transparent lights in cocoon-shape remind you of the world of ancient silkworm cultivation.
In the Ancient Exhibit Hall, the exhibits present the long history of silk in the form of precious silk relics, models and pictures from its origin in the late period of the Neolithic Age to its production in the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is not exaggerating to say that the exhibits in this hall are a concentrated history of Chinese silk in ancient times.
Everyone knows that silk, silkworms, and the mulberry bush are closely related. The Silkworm-Rearing Room replicates conditions during the late Qing dynasty. You will enjoy the relaxing feeling of a simpler time. Here you will see thousands of silkworms all eating their favorite food, mulberry leaves. It is a memorable experience that will stay in your mind forever.
Walking into the Silk-Weaving Workshop is like entering another world. A variety of ancient looms demonstrate traditional silk weaving technology, and offers you a rare chance to feel the grandeur of the Suzhou silk industry of centuries ago. Weaving girls in ancient costumes demonstrate the working procedures on the spot. They produce various silk products such as cloud brocades, green silk and velvet. You'll be surprised at what you see.
Passing through a gate pass symbolizing Jiayuguan Pass on the ancient Silk Road, you enter the Central Hall. A passage paved by granite extends from the Introductory Hall and connects a stone bridge in the west end of the Central Hall, leading to Yuyangguan Pass, the west gate of the Museum. On one side of the stone bridge hangs a model of the ship once served for Zheng He’s voyage to the west. On the other side, a model of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xian, an inevitable pass on the Silk Road, stands in water. The two models respectively represent the overland and maritime Silk Road routes, which combine with each other to unveil ancient civilization to the world.
In the Neoteric (1840-1919) and Modern (1919-1949) Exhibit Halls, you can get an overview of the exquisite craftsmanship of Suzhou silk. You'll see a variety of exhibits featuring silk clothes, silk products that have received international awards, skillful craftsmen, famous people in the silk field, the development of the local silk industry, and the history of the Silk Road.
In the Suzhou Silk Museum you will also find a 'Ming and Qing Street' lined with replicas of time-honored silk stores. Its traditional Suzhou flavor will make a deep and unforgettable impression on you. You can't visit these stores without wanting to buy something!
Suzhou, in Jiangsu Province, is not only a famous cultural city and a city of gardens, but also the silk capital of China. During the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties, it was the silk producing center; in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties most of the high-grade silk produced for the royal families was made by silk weavers here. Suzhou Silk Museum is one of must-see places while you travel in Suzhou City.