You definitely heard of legendary Chinese or Japanese silk, you may have heard of sericulture in the South of Croatia in Konavle but did you know of silk production in the most continental part of Croatia – in Slavonia?
Believe it or not, this branch of production is nothing new!
Among the economic branches that enjoyed the special support of the Vienna Palace in the Kingdom of Croatia, the place was sericulture. It’s all about breeding silkworms, turning cocoon in raw silk and about the further processing of raw silk in thread or yarn. The production of raw silk was one of the most important ways of realizing the cheap production and expensive sale of raw silk which made Vienna place merchants start the economic experiment with silk.
The cultivation of silkworms was introduced in Slavonia in 1761 and three years later in Varaždin, The production of silk by the end of October 1800 was under military control. Then it went to the hands of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce. The problem with the production of silk was that production was very small and unsafe. It was very sensitive and risky culture, so that production in adverse years had fallen to half of the annual average. Although the job did not require much physical effort, it required careful and continuous care. For the whole hard work and so much inconvenience, the whole house fell on barely average salary per day.
The quality of Croatian silk did not look expensive and shiny as French and Italian, but it was stronger, heavier and more durable. This practice progressed mostly until 1848. Habsburg’s Monarchy has lost Lombardy, which until then has processed 90% of the Croatian silk.
The last catastrophic blow in 1855 was the disease of silkworms. The growing competition between France, Italy and later Japan was also unfavorable. Sericulture in Croatia didn’t stand a chance and had to stop the production of the silk for good.