A Film Heritage
The Region of Murcia occupies a very special place in the history and development of the silk industry in Spain, with a projection only comparable, albeit on a smaller scale, to that of Valencia. Unlike the latter, the activity in Murcia was basically oriented towards the production of raw materials, to the detriment of manufacturing and textile activity. This development was not free of conflicts and contradictions and was punctuated by numerous ups and downs. In the end, however, it was precisely in this city that silk production in Spain experienced its last splendour in silk production until recent times.
The orchards of Murcia
The cultivation of the mulberry tree in the orchards of Murcia was a very important economic activity during the 17th and 18th centuries, linked to the production of silk. The mulberry tree (Morus alba) is a tree that provides the leaves on which silkworms feed, and which was introduced into Spain from the East. The orchards of Murcia, with their irrigation system based on the irrigation ditches that distribute water from the Segura river, offered optimum conditions for the development of this crop, which was mainly grown on the edges of the terraces, taking advantage of the humidity. The rearing of the silkworm was a family task, in which all the members took part, from the collection of the leaves to the processing of the cocoons. The silk was reeled in artisan or industrial workshops and exported to other places. Mulberry cultivation and silk production were a source of wealth and prestige for the region of Murcia, until they went into decline at the end of the 19th century, due to the pebrine, foreign competition and a shift in preference to other more profitable crops in recent times.