Rare Armenian silk cocoon embroidery at the Armenian Museum of America
At the turn of the century, cultures in the far east would discard silk cocoons after they could no longer be used for silk threads, but Armenians would cut and shape the cocoon for embroidery. The Armenian Museum of America houses an exclusive piece of silk cocoon embroidery, inscribed in Armenian with the date 1909 that once belonged to Zavart Kovookjian and was created for her third marriage.
Cocoon work utilizes the domesticated silkworm’s discarded cocoons (bombix mori). Most silkworm cocoons were boiled intact and then unwound to produce silk fabric, but some cocoons were damaged when the next generation of adult moths emerged from them. The broken cocoons were cut into simple shapes and then embroidered along with golden metallic thread bullion stitches and sequins in various designs such as wreaths or birds, most often onto dark blue and black velvet. The center of the cocoon embroidery was often left unembellished, allowing room for a photograph to be mounted.