Silk Fabric


History of Silk:

Since the 27 th century B.C., the Chinese have produced and used silk fabric. In fact, raising silk worms was one of the many chores of the farm women in China. From China, silk was exported via the Silk Route.

The Chinese never let out the secret of how the silk was produced. However, in later years, Christian monks smuggled the eggs out of the country; hence introducing silk manufacture in other nations as well.

The Making of Silk Fabric:

The process of making silk is delicate and involves a number of steps.

  • The first stage is called sericulture. This is the cultivation of the silk worms. The most popular species for obtaining mulberry silk is Bombyx mori. The worms are raised in a controlled environment and are fed mulberry leaves. The worms form a cocoon around themselves by secreting a protein from the top of their head.
  • The farmers collect these cocoons and deliver them to the factory, where they are subject to filature operations.


  • The first step is to sort the cocoons according to color, size, shape and texture.
  • Then, the cocoons are made to go through a serious of hot and cold immersions. In this way, the sericin (the gummy substance that holds the fibroin strands in the silk filament together) is softened.
  • Once this is done, the filament is unwound from the cocoon and combined to produce a thread of raw silk. This is the process of reeling. Usually, three to ten strands are reeled at a time.
  • Finally the skeins into which the filament was reeled, are packed into bundles called books which are then put into bales to be exported to the mill.
  • In the mill, the silk fiber is woven into silk fabric, using either a hand loom or a power loom.

Indian Silk Fabric:

India is the second largest producer of silk after China and the largest consumer of silk in the world. As per the 2001-02 records, India produced 17550 MT of silk.

Types of Silk Fabric :

There are innumerable varieties of silk moths, but only four main types of commercially valuable natural silk:

Mulberry silk
  • Tasar silk: This is a copperish colored silk. It is coarse and is used mainly for furnishings. It is produced by the silkworm Antheraea mylitta , which mainly thrives on the plants Asan and Arjun. It is reared on trees in the open.
  • Muga silk: This is a golden yellow colored silk that is produced in Assam. It is obtained from the semi-domesticated silkworm, Antheraea assamensis which feeds on the aromatic leaves of Som and Soalu plants.
  • Eri silk: This is got from the domesticated silkworm, Philosamia ricini that feeds mainly on castor leaves. The eri cocoons are open-mouthed.

In India, mulberry silk is produced in many states such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir and West Bengal. The other types of silk are produced in Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Orissa and the north-eastern states.

There are a wide variety of silk textiles made from these four kinds of natural silk. These may be handwoven or woven in power looms. In the mulberry silk variety, some of these silk fabrics are:

  • Plain silk : This variety of silk textile may be produced on both the hand loom and the powerloom. Available in various shades and patterns, and an entire range of qualities.
  • Organza : This is a very thin silk cloth that is made of highly twisted yarn.
  • Crepe : This silk textile is woven from‘s' and ‘z' twisted yarn. The crepe sarees of Mysore are very beautiful.
  • Satin : An extremely elegant type of mulberry silk fabric. Banarasi satin sarees are very popular.
  • Matka silk : A thick kind of silk fabric, used for furnishing. By varying the amount of yarn used, the texture and thickness may be modified. It is produced in Bhagalpur in India.
  • Murshidabad silk : Produced in the Murshidabad district of West Bengal, this type of silk cloth is used to make sarees and scarves. It is available in varying qualities.
  • Dupion : This type of Indian silk fabric, is a specialty of the handlooms in Bangalore, India. It is available in a number of shades; and used for both garments as well as soft furnishings.
  • Charka silk : This is a thick variety of silk from India that is used to make zari sarees. It is woven on a handloom.
  • Chiffon : A very soft and light variety of silk fabric, it is made of highly twisted yarn that is woven on a power loom. It is a very thin, but strong fabric.
  • Chinnon : This is a very soft and crimped silk textile. It is woven of twisted yarn on a power loom.
  • Tabby silk : This variety is produced in Kashmir and is used to make sarees and scarves.
  • Asha Kamal Modi's Jewelry : Her signature jewelry line, Art Karat, is one of the most well-known in India. It was launched in 1988. The ornaments are made of alloy metals and gold-plated silver . They make use of semi-precious stones and beads . The Art Karat collection boasts of jewelry that ranges from the classical to the contemporary.
  • Niru Rajeev Kumar's Jewelry : Traditional Pachchikam jewelry of Gujarat, India, is revived in Niru's collection of designer jewelry of India.
  • Shobha Asar's Jewelry : Launched under the brand name Shobha Asar, this designer jewelry is characterized by a combination of diamonds and semi-precious stones. These are set in platinum and white gold.
  • Alpana Gujral's Jewelry : Her signature jewelry collection is dominated by bright colors and Indian motifs.
  • Lavina Godhwani's Jewelry : Lavina Godhwani jewelry, sold under the brand name Bling, is chunky and uses diamonds, precious and semi-precious stones.

The designer jewelry of Farah Khan (the sister of Indian actor Zayed Khan), and Saba Ali Khan (the sister of Indian actor Saif Ali Khan) are other famous signature jewelry lines from India. Payal Seth's jewelry, Maheep Kapoor's jewelry and the Varuna D Jani Collection are also exquisite examples of Indian designer jewelry.

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