Silk Worm, 3rd century BCE- 3rd century CE

Unknown artist, expand_more

Gilt bronzeexpand_more

Gift of Ruth and Bruce Daytonexpand_more  96.55.1

Solidly cast in a realistic form, this bronze silkworm might have functioned as a mat or shroud weight in a Han dynasty tomb. Sericulture, or silk farming, was an important industry in ancient China and, with the opening of trade routes to the West during the second century BCE, the export of silk became an important source of wealth. Accordingly, this tiny worm would have symbolized both luxury and economic prosperity to Han society.

Silk Worm
Accession Number
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

Zoom in on the left to the detail you'd like to save. Click 'Save detail' and wait until the image updates. Right click the image to 'save image as' or copy link, or click the image to open in a new tab.