The People's Government of YunCheng City
Lei Zu
Issue time:2021-09-04

Lei Zu(嫘祖) was from Xiyin Village, Weiguo Town, Xiaxian County. According to “Five Emperors” in Records of the Historian, Emperor Huang lived in the hill of Xuanyuan, and he married the daughter of Xi Ling, Lei Zu, who was the imperial concubine of Emperor Huang. Xiling is nowadays Xiyin Village, Weiguo Town, Xiaxian County.

At that time, the area of Xiyin village was a dense mulberry forest. People could not weave or make clothes. They wrapped leaves in summer and covered animal skins in winter. Lei Zu wanted to solve people’s dressing problem. At first, she used bark to twist the thread. Later, she found that cocoon fiber of wild silkworms on the mulberry tree was thin and strong, so she began to raise silkworms at home. She cooked the cocoon and put it on a stick. She twisted the fibers with her hand, which was later called silk thread. Inspired by spider web, Lei Zu weaves silk thread into brocade, which was later called silk. Inspired by the Barracuda in the river, she made a tool for wrapping silk, which was called a shuttle by later generations. Since then, people began to wear clothes made of brocade and silk, ending the era of clothing with leaves and hides. In order to commemorate Lei Zu’s contribution to mankind, later generations honored her as “the first silkworm lady”. In the south of Xiyin village, there used to be a temple called “the goddess of the first silkworm”, in which the statue of the goddess of the first silkworm was built.

Appendix: Legend of sericulture of Lei Zu.

Xiyin Village, Weiguo Town, Xiaxian County was the hometown of Lei Zu and the place where Lei Zu began her sericulture.

According to legend, in ancient times, there was a mulberry forest in the west of Zhongtiao Mountain. Beside the mulberry forest, there was a village. When the sun came out, the whole village was covered by thick mulberry forest. People used to call it Xiyin village.

There lived a girl named Lei Zu in Xiyin village. She was very beautiful. Lei Zu’s mother died of illness in the early years. Her father was a general under Emperor Huang. He went out to battle all year round, leaving Lei Zu and a beloved white horse at home.

Lei Zu often missed her father. At every festival and New Year, she always touched the little white horse to tell it how much she missed her father. One year, on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, Lei Zu heard laughter of reunion from the neighbors. She began to shed tears. At this time, the little white horse standing beside suddenly turned around and licked the tears on her face. Lei Zu was moved and held the horse’s head with her hands and said, “if you really understand human feelings, you should go to the army and get my father back. Then I will marry you.” As soon as Lei Zu finished her words, the little white horse hissed and rushed out.

The little white horse ran to the army like a winged horse, and found Lei Zu’s father. It jumped, kicked and shouted, which made Lei Zu’s father confused. Lei Zu’s father had to ask it, “what happened at home?” The little white horse turned its head and shouted several times towards the road. Her father felt that something was not good. He quickly rode on the little white horse and hurried home all night. The next day at dawn, the little white horse carrying the general ran back to Xiyin’s house. The father and daughter were so happy that they left the little white horse aside. At this time, the little white horse suddenly hissed, which meant, “Lei Zu, what are you going to do about what you said?” Lei Zu hurried back to the house to take out the best feed and add it to the trough, but the little white horse didn’t eat it. It just kept shouting at Lei Zu. Her father felt strange and asked his daughter, “What’s the matter with the little white horse?” Lei Zu blushed, and she told her father the joke to little white horse. Her father was very angry. He took an arrow and shot the little white horse. Then he peeled off the horse skin and threw it in front of the house angrily.

After her father left, Lei Zu was ashamed and regretful. She knelt down in front of the horse skin and said sadly, “horse, horse, I did something wrong and killed you. I will repay your kindness in the afterlife.” At this time, the neighbor’s girl Xue Hua came to play with Lei Zu. Seeing her kneeling in front of the horse skin, she thought it was very strange, so she asked what happened. Lei Zu couldn’t help but told the truth. Then Xue Hua treaded on the horse skin and said, “Shame on you. How dare you marry my elder sister......!” Before her voice died away, a gust of wind rose from the ground, and the horse’s skin rose up, wrapping in Xue Hua tightly, and left.

Lei Zu panicked and chased after Xue Hua. She ran while shouting,: “Xue Hua, Xue Hua...” Chasing out of the village, chasing into the mulberry forest, but only her voice echoed in the mulberry forest.

Lei Zu chased after her for a whole day. She was so tired that she was aching all over. She had no strength to chase Xue Hua further. She fell asleep under a mulberry tree. Suddenly, Lei Zu heard the funny sound and opened her eyes and saw that the horse skin wrapped in snow was sandwiched in the fork of a mulberry tree beside her. Lei Zu hurriedly shouted, “Xue Hua”. Then this horse skin gradually reduced. Finally, it shrunk into a small white ball like a thumb. It tightly stuck on the mulberry tree. Lei Zu could not take it down, so she had to come every day.

A few days later, a beautiful little white moth flew out of the little white ball. Its two eyebrows and a pair of eyes were exactly the same as those of Xue Hua. Lei Zu thought it was very strange and still came to visit every day as usual.

A few more days passed, the moth suddenly died and fell to the ground. Lei Zu was very sad. She thought it must be the pests that hurt it. She looked for the pets on the mulberry tree, but there were no pests. She only saw a lot of small black grains sticking to the mulberry leaves. These small black grains gradually became many small black insects, which ate mulberry leaves and climbed all around mulberry trees. A few days later, the little black insects turned into the little white insects, which were very beautiful. Their heads were like those of the little white horse, only with two ears missing. Their posture on the mulberry leaves was exactly the same as that of the little white horse, but the body is white and shiny like the beautiful figure of Xue Hua.

“Ah, it’s her, it’s it, and it’s their offspring!” Lei Zu finally found out the secret. In order to repay the kindness of little white horse and Xue Hua, Lei Zu took these little white insects home one by one and put them in the basket in the house. Every day, she went to the mulberry forest to pick the best mulberry leaves and feed them. Time passed by day by day, the little white insects grew up and finally spit out strands of silver to contribute to its owner. Their owner missed their parents very much. She thought that both the white horse and Xue Hua had died for her, and they died miserably, so she gave them a memorial name - “silkworm”. The white strands they spit out become “silk”.

The next year, when Emperor Huang defeated Chi You, he set up a banquet in front of the tent and rewarded the armies. Many generals and people sent various treasures. Lei Zu and her silk attracted Emperor Huang. He was very fond of beautiful Lei Zu, so he proposed to Lei Zu’s father. Lei Zu’s father was very happy and agreed to their marriage on the spot.

Since then, China’s sericulture industry has been promoted to the whole country under the will of Emperor Huang. Xiyin village, the hometown of Lei Zu, has become the birthplace of mulberry planting and sericulture.