The Journey of SILK !

Come, let us go on an alluring journey, The journey of SILK.

Let us unravel the mystery of this dazzling and luxurious fabric. To do so, we have to follow in the footsteps of the mysterious Silkworm. Silk is one of the most sought after natural fabrics of India. Silk is a protein fibre which is obtained from cocoons produced by Silkworm. Silk was discovered in China, some 5500 years back. The origin of Silk thread is indeed a very interesting story.

According to legends, as well as some archaeological findings, Silk was discovered by Empress Lei Tzu, wife of the Yellow Emperor Huang Di who ruled China around 3000 BC. There are different versions of the story, but the one which is most popular goes something like this. One evening Empress Tzu was walking in the gardens with her husband. She noticed that some insect was destroying many mulberry trees in the garden. She collected a number of cocoons of that particular insect and one of the cocoons accidentally fell in the cup of the hot tea that the Empress was having. Tzu noticed that after falling into the hot liquid, the cocoon disintegrated into fine threads. She liked this thread so much that she requested the Emperor to rear more Silkworms in the mulberry trees in their royal garden. She also invented a special kind of reel to make strong and long threads from the Silkworm cocoons.

Thus began the process of sericulture or the cultivation of Silkworms to produce Silk. Methods and techniques might have changed vastly over the years, but what Empress Tzu had done more than five thousand years back is the inspiration of what we do at Kamaniya today! Initially, Silk was exported from China to different parts of the world. The road by which Silk traveled from China to West Asia is called the Silk route. This ancient route stretched over 6,000 kilometers from Eastern China to the Mediterranean Sea, following the Great Wall of China, climbing the Pamir mountain range, crossing modern day Afghanistan and then going on to the West Asian countries. From there it crossed the seas and reached the Roman Empire and subsequently Europe. This is how the journey of the Silkworm began, a journey across many centuries and across a number of countries. 

Some time later, Silk was started to be manufactured in other parts of the world as well. India was one of them. The story of the Silkworms travelling to India from China is also an amazing one. Though no one knows about the authenticity of this kind of stories, they certainly have some element of truth in them and need to be narrated. Around 400 AD, a Chinese princess was married to an Indian prince. It is believed that she was so fond of Silk that she smuggled mulberry seeds and Silkworm eggs in her traditional headdress so that she could manufacture Silk in her new homeland. That is how, according to the storytellers, Silk came to our country.

If we look at the history of the Tussar Silk, we will find that there is very little information regarding the time and place of its origin. However, one can safely say that the manufacturing of Tussar started during the medieval age in India. This type of Silk is highly valued for its golden yellow colour, a colour which is obtained from the colour of the moth that produces this particular type of Silk.  There are different kinds of Silk, of which one of the most popular varieties is the Tussar Silk. Tussar Silk is regarded as the ‘Queen of Fabrics’ because it is considered to be best of all natural fibres. This is because of its unique strength, lustre, softness, drapability and attractiveness. The specific texture and design of Tussar Silk makes it popular not only at the national but also in the international market.  The exquisite thread of the Tussar Silk is obtained from the cocoon of a particular kind of Silkworm,which is commonly called the 'Indian Silkworm'. These Silkworms belong to a few different species such as "Antheraea Paphia" and "Antheraea Mylitta". It is indeed interesting to note that these worms are called 'wild Silkworms' as they are different from the domesticated Silkworm Bombyx Mori which is common in other parts of the world. This species is native to India only.

The life cycle of a Silk moth starts when a female Silk moth lays eggs. The caterpillar or larvae are hatched from the eggs of the Silk moth. The Silkworms feed on local trees like Sal, Arjun and Saja and give rise to pupa. In the pupa stage, a weave is netted around by the Silkworm to hold itself. After that it swings its head, spinning a fibre made of a protein and produces the Silk fibre. Several caterpillars form a protective layer around pupa and this covering is known as the cocoon. The Silk thread or the yarn is obtained from the Silk moth’s cocoon.

Let us now discuss in some details the life-cycle of a Silkworm.

The first stage is the egg-hatching stage. An egg is the first stage of the life cycle of a Silkworm. A female Silk moth lays numerous eggs. These eggs are usually the size of small dots. One female moth can lay more than 350 eggs at one time. In the springtime, the eggs hatch due to the warmth in the air. This procedure can happen only once in every year. This shows that Tussar is indeed a rare and valuable material. 

The second stage involves the birth and growth of the Silkworm. After the eggs crack, a Silkworm comes out. In this stage of Silkworms, they grow very fast as they consume large amount of leaves. These go on for around 30 days till the Silkworm is fully matured.

The third stage is that of cocoon formation. In this stage, a protective cocoon is spun by the Silkworm around itself. This cocoon is made of a single thread of Silk. It is the size of a small cotton ball.

In the fourth stage, the Silk thread is unwound from the pupae. We have traveled long in distance and time since the days of Empress Tzu. Now modern techniques and expertise are used to obtain the precious golden thread.

The fifth and the final stage is indeed very important in the life-cycle of the Silkworm. Some pupae are kept to change into adult moths. The female moth lays eggs after mating and thus the life cycle of Silkworm continues.

As it was five thousand years back, Silk is still considered to be a symbol of status and royalty. So come, immerse yourself in that aura of magnificence. Pick up a Kamaniya Tussar Silk product to bring out the Queen in YOU!

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