You will not come across a single household in India where you will not find a traditional silk saree , perhaps hidden in the closet. This relation of Indians with silk has its roots from ancient times. Definitely no other fabric can take the place of silk in the heart and wardrobe of Indian women.
Silk offers a fascinating, delightful and luxurious feel. No wonder, it is crowned as the queen of textiles and rules the textile industry with its shimmer, charisma and sensuousness.
History of silk dates back to over 4500 years ago.Our proud nation, India ranks second in the production of silk, providing around whooping 18 per cent of the total production across the world.
At present,silk weaving practice in India is mainly focused on the saree, the indigenous conventional attire that is draped by most women in the country. It is considered as a symbol of honor and exuberance to drape a silk saree. Perhaps, that is the reason why most women in India drape themselves in fancy and colorful silk sarees during weddings, celebrations,festivals and important occasions.
The dynamic colours, sheer appearance, flexibility and superb drape have made silk sarees, the alluring and a must companion of women of India. The enticing touch of silk has made Indian silk popular across the globe with its range of patterns, style and weaves.
How is Silk obtained
Indian silk is one of the best types of silk.Thanks to its natural origins it has great form and it is the best choice of silk for your apparel needs. This silk finds its place in the collections of renowned designers and bespoke tailors all over the planet.
Nonetheless, have you ever thought, how this appealing silk fabric is obtained? Silk production has a mysterious history.The farming of silkworms to produce silk is known as sericulture. Over the span of years ,sericulture has been refined and developed to an accurate science.
There are five predominant varieties of silk available in India known as Mulberry silk,Oak Tasar silk, Eri silk, Tasar silk and Muga silk. These are obtained from various species of silkworms depending on the kind of plants they feed upon.
The Mulberry silk is recognized as the popular silk in India. Mulberry silk production is courtesy of this teeny weeny insect called the silkworm. It is none other than the caterpillar of the silk moth called Bombyx mori. It thrives singularly on the leaves of Mulberry trees. Silk is formed when the silkworm spins a cocoon around itself.
Usually, a single cocoon manufactures about 1,000 and 2,000 feet of silk filament. In India, the main mulberry silk producing states are Jammu & Kashmir,West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Eri Silk is a long lasting and a durable variety of silk. The other names are Errandi or Endi silk. The Philosamia ricini variety of silkworm that feeds on castor leaves produces this awesome type of silk. Eri Silk has a subtle touch, is thick and has a warm feel. India is a leading manufacturer of Eri Silk. It is usually cultivated in eastern parts of India such as Assam . Eri Silk is also manufactured in West Bengal, Orissa and Bihar.
The pride of Assam known as the Muga Silk is famous for its natural glistening golden yellow hue. It is generated from Antheraea assamensis. A multivoltine silkworm, who is partially domesticated.
This variety of silkworm thrives itself on the fragrant leaves of Soalu and Som plants. The muga silk, a superior quality product is used to make bed sheets, sarees and mekhala.
Oak Tasar silk
Not as lustrous as Mulberry silk, Tassar silk is mainly used for interiors and furnishings.
This variety of silk is extracted from a certain silkworm named Antheraea mylitta that usually feeds on the trees Arjun and Asan. It is produced in the states of Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand. Also in, Andhra Pradesh ,Maharashtra and West Bengal.
A timeless romance is known from ancient times between the silk fabric and sarees.The gorgeous and lush silk sarees of India are among the contemporary examples of the distinguished craftsmanship of the silk weavers of India. Their finesse lies in the formation of exquisite textures,floral designs and awesome geometry.The endurance of their work and last but not least the lively colours they select for designing sarees. Diverse regions in India boast their exclusive type of silk sarees also with weaving centres with their historic designs, quality and weaving.The silk designs are known by the place where it comes from.
Banarasi Silk Saree
Banaras, in Uttar Pradesh , is an outstanding silk weaving centres in India. The different types of Banarasi silk sarees are Navarangi , Jamvar, Jamdani and Amru .The Amru silk saree is considered one of the best Banarsi silk saree due to its design of brocades with a extravagant pallu of flowering mango design or flowering bushes.
Paithani Silk Saree
Paithani Silk Saree is a hand woven silk saree with a gorgeous, enriching gold thread called as Zari. The saree border are designed in an oblique square pattern, and the pallu having a design of the beautiful peacock. The Paithani saree is renowned for its distinctiveness world over.
The saree is named after Paithan , a small town located in Maharashtra state from where it comes.
Chanderi Silk Saree
The delicate and sophisticated weave of Chanderi sarees is well marked in the history of India. Right from the Mughals to the Maratha dynasty that ruled Madhya Pradesh and Bundelkhand. The sarees were worn by the ladies of the royal families and was the favorite saree of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi. The different colours and images of animal and human figures on the sarees is the uniqueness of the Chanderi silk sarees.
Patola Silk Saree
It is famous for its vivacious colors and geometric patterns with folk depictions.Patola Silk Saree is also known as the pride of Gujarat.
Other famous silk sarees
Kanjeevaram , Tanjore and Kumbakonam are other famous silk sarees that come from Tamil Nadu. They are well known for their extensive decorative borders and awesome colors.
This huge array of silk sarees from all across India shows that, silk has been an essential part and parcel of the people of India from time immemorial. Silk is considered to be a divine fabric in India and therefore is used for all ceremonial ,religious and rituals.