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The Story of Silk Reading Answers IELTS Sample

Updated on 19 December, 2022
Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

The IELTS is a popular exam that can help students secure admission to reputed foreign universities. Amidst various sections, there is a dedicated module for a full-length essay. Examinees need to read the passage and answer relevant questions.

Here is a sample of a prominent passage titled, ‘the story of silk.’ The subsequent section contains frequently asked questions of different types. Read the essay and attempt to answer the questions. Later, one can go through the explanations to understand how to proceed with such a section.  

The Story Of Silk Essay:

Be it clothing, upholstery, parachutes, or bedding, silk finds extensive utility in a variety of products. This elastic, breathable, and shiny fiber offers several benefits to people across the globe. Similar to the extensive utility of this fiber, the story of silk is quite intriguing. The discovery of silk is considered to be an accident. Here’s how it possibly came into existence.

The story of silk and its origin dates back to around 3000 B.C. China. Empress Leizu, the wife of the mythological Chinese emperor Hoangti, discovered silkworms around her palace. These tiny insects caused damage to the beautiful mulberry trees in her garden. Leizu ordered the collection of these worms and took some of the cocoons inside the palace. Here’s where the story of silk gets even more interesting. After resting for a while, Empress Leizu was sipping delicious hot tea. Suddenly, a silkworm’s cocoon fell into her cup. The temperature of the beverage led to the unrolling of the worm’s thread.

Empress Leizu was quick to notice that she was able to weave a thread around her delicate fingers. With encouragement from the emperor, she began raising silkworms on mulberry trees. Soon, she developed a unique reel to finely draw the fibers and create a single thread. Thus, if one believes this mythical story, Leizu needs to get the credit for inventing sericulture. The story of silk doesn’t end with this invention. Interestingly, the Chinese kept this material a secret for several years. In the beginning, women were solely responsible for harvesting and thread weaving activities. However, the Qing Dynasty from 1644 to 1911 A.D. played the role of a catalyst in the story of silk. During their rule, silk found major inclusion in all classes of Chinese society. Hence, the old rule of entitling royalty to possess silk clothes was no longer in effect.

During the reign of Han Dynasty, silk became a highly enticing fabric. In fact, it was also used as a currency, which was a testament of its remarkable popularity and charisma. Even farmers were allowed to pay taxes in the form of silk. Around 168 A.D., it is believed that silk paper came into existence, which was found in a noble’s tomb. Gradually, the story of silk found its way beyond China. The silk road or routes proved a pivotal role in the trade of gold, wool, and silver from the western world. This profitable route, which spanned over 6,000 kilometers, was named after silk, as the fabric was considered more precious than gold. This road originated from east China and went all the way up to the beautiful Middle East. 

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The story of silk finds an interesting and global turn thanks to the Byzantine empire. From 330 to 1450 A.D., this empire ruled North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Middle East regions. As per another historical story around 550 A.D., monks who worked for the powerful Byzantine empire smuggled tiny silkworm eggs that were concealed in hollow walking canes made from bamboo. These monks carried out this adventurous silkworm trafficking to Constantinople, now known as Istanbul. However, the credit for silk’s widespread popularity has to go to the Arabs who conquered Persia. Due to their ambitious expansion, the production of silk became a known technique in regions like Spain, Africa, and Sicily. By now, the story of silk has reached Europe, with Italy producing and exporting the largest quantity of the gorgeous fabric. With the growing popularity and challenges in European silk production, a distant country was taking quick strides in modernizing its production. This nation was none other than Japan.

With the rapid advancement in technology, Japan ramped up the raw silk production capacity. In no time, the Japanese became one of the leading suppliers of silk across the globe. The rise of Japan as a silk distributor is also connected to Europe’s silk industry downfall. The 19th century witnessed the devastating World War II, in which Europe took a considerable hit. As a result, countries like Japan and India became major exporters of silk. Gradually, silk products like parachutes and stockings became highly popular items. However, in every story, challenges and setbacks are inevitable. The same fact is applicable in the case of silk. The 20th century witnessed the rise of man-made fabrics like nylon. With better heat retention, durability, and elasticity, this fabric began replacing silk products. Still, silk has an identity of its own.

In fact, the Japanese were able to develop new methods that enhanced the quality of silk. Until the late 1900s, Japan functioned as one of the raw silk's main producers and exporters. However, China has repositioned itself as the major silk-producing country in the modern era. The Chinese produce over 150,000 metric tons in a year, which accounts for over 70% of global silk production. Hence, it can be valid to say that the story of silk found a complete circle — originating in China and ending with this nation producing the largest quantity.

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The reading answers IELTS sample for this passage requires careful evaluation of the entire passage. Students need to answer the questions in one or two words.

So, it is vital to skim thoroughly through the topic, in this case, ‘the story of silk’ and explain every solution. Here are the relevant questions that align with this essay.

Complete the questions or notes below.

Choose ONLY ONE or TWO WORDS from the essay for answering each question.

Early production of silk in the country of China

Around 3000 B.C., according to an age-old legend:

1. The silkworm cocoon accidently fell into the emperor’s wife’s _____? 

Answer: tea


Scan the story of silk essay for the mention of 3000 B.C. This entry is presented in paragraph two. So, move directly to the second paragraph and read the fifth line. It is clear from the sentences that empress Leizu was sipping delicious hot tea, and the cocoon fell into her cup. Hence, the answer is ‘tea.’

2. The Emperor’s wife invented a _____ to draw fibers

Answer: reel 


In the third paragraph, there is a clear mention of Empress Leizu developing a special reel to draw fibers. This way, she indulged in creating single threads from the silkworms. So, ‘reel’ is the correct answer in this reading answers IELTS sample.

3. Only _____ had the responsibility and permission to produce silk

Answer: women


One can locate the answer to this question in the sixth line of the third paragraph. There is a mention of the Chinese keeping silk as a secret material. Following this statement, it’s written that women were solely responsible for silk production activities like harvesting and weaving. So, the final answer is ‘women.’

4. Initially, only _____ had the entitlement to wear silk clothes

Answer: royalty


The eighth line of paragraph three mentions how Qing Dynasty made it possible for silk finds its major inclusion in Chinese society. However, the subsequent line informs the reader about the elimination of an old rule that entitled royalty to possess silk clothes. The trick to finding solutions to such reading answers IELTS sample is to locate specific keywords.

For instance, in this case, ‘entitle,’ and its associated forms is the main keyword. Also, an examinee needs to read and understand the essay thoroughly.

5. Silk was also popularly utilized as a form of _____

Answer: currency


One can locate this answer in the opening lines of the fourth paragraph. It was evident that silk became an enticing fabric during the reign of the Han Dynasty. However, the story of silk also reveals that the charisma and popularity of this fabric made it an alternative currency.

6. The applications of silk were numerous.

Silk _____ was one of the interesting products discovered around 168 A.D.

Answer: paper


The third line of this reading answers IELTS sample mentions the date 168 A.D. This section mentions the discovery of silk paper found near a noble’s tomb. Individuals looking to quickly solve this question should be alert to locate the mention of the time phase. The answer is most likely adjacent to the year, in this case, 168 A.D.

7. Merchants utilized the silk route or road to bring materials like _____ and precious metals

Answer: wool


The fourth paragraph explicitly mentions small information about the silk route. One can find the solution to this question in the fifth line of the story of silk passage. In this case, it is vital to apply logic as the answer isn’t present in direct words. The essay mentions this road’s pivotal role in the gold, wool, and silver trade. Since both silver and gold are precious metals, wool is the correct answer.

8. In or around 550 A.D., _____ hid silkworm eggs in bamboo canes to smuggle them to Constantinople

Answer: monks


The answer to this essay question lies in the fifth paragraph. One needs to read lines three to six in the passage to locate it. There is a clear mention of 550 A.D. Next; there is a straightforward answer to this sentence starting from ‘monks who worked for the Byzantine empire.’ Hence, finding the solution to this reading answers IELTS sample isn’t quite challenging.

9. In the 20th century, _____ and other artificial materials led to a decline in the production of silk.

Answer: nylon


This question’s answer is present in the sixth paragraph. The ending lines of this section describe the physical properties of nylon, like durability, elasticity, and better heat retention. It is written that the fabric began replacing silk products. This sentence implies the decline in the production of silk. 

Do the statements below relate to the information in the Reading essay?

TRUE    if the sentence agrees with the content of the essay

FALSE if the sentence contradicts the relevant portion of the essay

NOT GIVEN if the information is not present in the essay

10. Gold was the most precious material transported along the Silk Route.

Answer: FALSE    


In paragraph four of 'the story of silk' essay, there is a clear mention of the silk road. So, the candidate should locate the statement's authenticity in this section. The fifth line states how silk was considered more precious than gold. Hence, the statement is incorrect.

11. Chinese regained the largest exporter of silk tag in recent years

Answer: TRUE


In the final paragraph of the story of silk, there is a mention of China regaining its position as a significant silk-producing country. Statistics like the production of over 150,000 metric tons and 70% of global silk production are testaments of this statement. So, the largest exporter tag for China is valid. 

12. The Byzantine empire was responsible for spreading the process of silk production in western countries

Answer: FALSE


The fifth paragraph of this reading answers IELTS sample and mentions some details about the Byzantine empire. Hence, one should refer to this section for further analysis. Sixth line onwards, there is a mention of Arabs who should receive the credit for the widespread popularity of silk. This empire had an ambitious expansion and was responsible for spreading the knowledge of this fabric to countries like Spain. So, the statement in the question is incorrect.

13. China exports the majority of silk in the form of yarn



In the final paragraph of the story of silk, the writer mentions how China regained its position as the top producer of silk. The section also puts forth statistics to back up the claim. However, there is no inclusion of ‘silk yarn’ anywhere in the paragraph. Examinees should thus answer the question as ‘not given.’

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