Types of Silks
Silk clothing signifies a deep-rooted cultural, religious and social tradition in our country. This exotic fabric, once reserved strictly as Royal Clothing, has now become the customary wear for social and religious ceremonies. The lustrous and resilient silk fabric is obtained from different species of silkworm. A wide range of silk fabrics are available today. Read on to know more about the primary types of silks that are available commercially.
The most popular variety of Silk, the Mulberry Silk, is obtained from Bombyxmori silkworms that solely feed on Mulberry leaves. This type of silk is the chiefly produced commercial variety, where silk worms are domesticated and reared indoors. Mulberry Silk is soft and has a natural luster. It is also easy to dye, smooth and has a fluidity that makes the silk an excellent choice for clothing.
Commonly known as wild silk, Tasar is obtained from Antherarea moths that feed on the leaves of Arjun and Asan plants instead of Mulberry trees. It is however processed in the same way as the Mulberry Silk. The resultant fabric is light-weight and airy, which makes it well suited for warmer climates.
Tasar Silk has short and coarse fibre and is hence firm. This makes the Tasar Silk a wrinkle-free fabric. Less shimmery than Mulberry Silk, Tasar has a dull gold or copper sheen and is difficult to dye. Therefore, the silk is available only in its natural colour. Oak Tasar Silk, another fine variety of Tasar, is obtained from the cocoons of Anthrarea proyeli that feed on leaves of wild oak trees. Oak Tasar Silk is commonly produced in India.
Indigenous to India, Muga Silk is obtained from Muga silkworms (Antheraea assamensis) that feed on the aromatic leaves of Solau plants. This silk is an integral part of the custom and culture of the north-eastern state of India, Assam. Muga Silk is golden yellow in colour. In fact, Muga in Assamese means yellow. This silk is more durable and its luster improves with every wash. This makes it one of the most superior and expensive silk varieties available today.
Eri Silk is obtained from cocoons of the worm Philosamia ricini. The word Eri is derived from the Assamese word ‘era’ meaning castor oil. The worms feed on the leaves of castor oil plants and hence the silk is named Eri. Unlike other silks, Eri Silk is spun into yarn after the worms leave their cocoon. Also called Endi or Errandi, this silk has more strength than any other silk. Eri Silk is heavy with a thick, almost cotton like texture.