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Read the passage carefully. Then choose the correct answer.
Silk was first made by the Chinese, who early learnt how to unravel the cocoons of the silkworm and weave the threads into material. A Chinese empress who lived in about 2640 B.C. is said to have devoted herself to the rearing of silkworms and to have invented a loom for weaving silk. For hundreds of years the Chinese closely guarded the secret of raising silkworms and making silk.

Silk is made from threads spun by the caterpillar of a moth when it is making the cocoon in which it becomes a pupa. This moth, closely related to the British emperor moth is known to scientists as 'Bombyx mori'. Because silk is a beautiful material, silkworms have been specially bred for centuries. It is likely that their original home was China, but they are not found in the wild anywhere and so no one is certain where they came from.

The silkworm moth is pale grey in color and measures about four centimeters across its wings. it is a feeble creature that neither flies nor feeds and lives only two or three days. The caterpillars are pale grey and smooth, rather humped up at the front with a blunt, hornlike projection at the rear. They moult, or shed their skins four times before they change into pupae. They will eat only mulberry leaves and prefer those of the white mulberry. The eggs, which are yellow, are known as 'seed' by people who rear silkworms for trade, and are sold by weight. One ounce of seed contains about 30,000 to 50,000 eggs. Silkworms have been specially reared for so long that the whole process is very highly organized. The females are made to lay their eggs on cards which can easily be stored in proper conditions throughout the winter. When the eggs should be ready to hatch, the cards are placed on trays and covered with mulberry leaves.

Great care has to be taken to keep silkworms and their trays spotlessly clean, for they are attacked by many diseases. When the caterpillars are ready to turn into pupae, loose twigs are placed over the leaves on their trays and they spin their cocoons on to them. The silk is formed in a pair of glands and flows out as a liquid through tiny openings on the caterpillar's lower lip. As soon as it reaches the air it hardens. The long silken threads on which other caterpillars swing in the wind are made in the same way. The silken threads on the outside of the cocoon are twisted and rough, but those lining the inside are smooth. Soon after the cocoons are formed, those from which the silk is to be taken are treated with dry heat in order to kill the pupae inside them. They are then put in hot water to loosen the silken threads and, after the rough outer silk has been removed, the inner thread is wound on to a reel. A single cocoon may consists of a thread 300 meters long. Usually the threads from several cocoons are twisted together and wound off at the same time so as to make a stronger thread. Such threads can be woven at once without any further treatment, but they are more often still further strengthened by twisting several of them together. They may also be dyed before use.

After cocoons have been unwound and the threads twisted together to make them stronger, they are wound into skeins in a factory. The silk is harsh to the touch because it is covered with a gummy substance. Boiling water and soap are used to remove this gum, and the threads are left lustrous and soft but much lighter. The silk is then wound on to bobbins and is 'thrown'. This means that two or more bobbins are placed close together and the threads from both are twisted and wound on to another bobbin. The amount of twist the silk is given depends on the uses to which it is to be put. Silk with little or no twist is used for making satin, and silk with a very high twist for the manufacture of silk crepe fabrics. Most silk does not need to be spun because it is already in the form of a long, unbroken thread. Some threads, however, are certain to get broken, and these are made into the material known as spun silk.


The writer tells of a Chinese empress who ______.

    (A) kept the secret of silkworms from the world
    (B) took care of silkworms with great kindness
    (C) organized the process by which silk is obtained
    (D) spent her whole life keeping silkworms
  2. Silk is probably precious because ______.
    (A) of the time and effort involved in obtaining it
    (B) an empress developed the loom for weaving silk
    (C) its original home is in China
    (D) people kept everything secret

Which of the following statements is not true ?

    (A) The Chinese were the first to make silk.
    (B) The Chinese invented a loom for weaving silk.
    (C) Silkworms abound in the wild in China.
    (D) Silkworms originated from China
  4. We are told that the eggs of the silkworms are very ______.
    (A) small
    (B) expensive
    (C) organized
    (D) vulnerable
  5. Silkworm eggs are covered with mulberry leaves to ______.
    (A) provide shade
    (B) protect them
    (C) let the eggs stick on them
    (D) give the caterpillars foods
  6. The caterpillars of the silkworm are given great care because ______.
    (A) silk is extracted from them
    (B) they are prone to diseases
    (C) growth is fastest at this stage
    (D) more eggs will be laid if care if given
  7. The hot water treatment ______.
    (A) kills the pupae
    (B) strengthens the thread
    (C) induces them to produce silk
    (D) dissolves the gummy substance
  8. The number of threads that are twisted together depends on the ______.
    (A) use to which they are put
    (B) length of the thread obtained
    (C) quality of the thread
    (D) amount actually available
  9. The gummy substance makes the silk thread ______.
    (A) lustrous
    (B) stronger
    (C) feel rough
    (D) soft and light
  10 A suitable title for this passage would be ______.
    (A) The Secret Of Silk
    (B) How Silk Is Made
    (C) The Chinese Silk Makers
    (D) The Chinese Silkworms
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  Answers : 1D   2A   3C   4A   5D   6B   7D   8A   9C   10B

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