The discovery of silk production was made by the Chinese around 2700 B.C. Sericulture, the commercial production of silk from the silkworm (scientific name bombyx mori), remained an important Chinese commodity for centuries.
The production and use of silk was limited to China until around 139 B.C. when the collective trade routes known as the Silk Road opened up commerce with the west during the Han Dynasty. Extensive hand labor produces the best quality silk fabric, with about 500 silkworm cocoons needed to produce one necktie. As sericulture spread to western countries, China's exports in the commodity lessened, but the country maintained its dominance in the production of luxury silk products.