The Silk Story

The Silk Story

Dwijendra Kumar
Pic Courtesy: Lovely Professional University , Fashion Design Department

One of the gorgeous fabrics of today, the silk originated in China thousands of years ago. It is said that a queen there devoted her entire life to the rearing of silk-worms which produce silk fibres.
She also helped in the invention of looms to turn the fibres into the fabric. However, the Chinese did not want that others should come to know of it and so kept it a secret. The world came to know of silks through Korea, a neighbouring country.
But it was Japan which took initiative in this regard and sent some Koreans to bring experts from China who could teach them the art of producing silks.
The Koreans brought along with them four Chinese girls who taught the Japanese about the same. Japanese, in turn, became so excited that they made a temple in their honour at Settsu.
From Japan, the manufacture and use of silk spread to other countries. The story of how the knowledge of silk spread in India is also very interesting. It is said that a Chinese princess was responsible for the leak of the information.
She crossed over to India hiding in the lining of her scarf the eggs of the insects which produce silk worm and also seeds of the mulberry trees on which such insects are reared.

Later on, India progressed in this field and today produces all the four varieties of silk, only country in the world to do so. The jewel-toned silk made in India is known worldwide.

Heavily embroidered silk garments too are popular worldwide as evening dress among females.Innovations in the field of finishes too have made silk occupy a prominent place amongst fabrics produced in India.
Such finishes include crease resistance in shirts and ties, oil and satin resistance, leather finish, cotton wash finish etc. Manually processed fibres and fabrics in sand finish too are in vogue. The advantage with this fabric is that it gives people the option to wear the garment throughout the year.
Again, country has got a long tradition in the field with weavers creating magic on the handlooms. Craft of weaving for them is just not a source of living but a family tradition. It is known as Resham in eastern and north India and Pattu in southern parts.

Silk industry in India did enjoy patronage of the royal during Mughal era helping those engaged in the field to churn out scintillating costumes and dresses.

Silk industry contributes significantly to country’s foreign exchange earnings and employs several lakhs of people. According to an estimate, there are around 2000 exporters spread across the country dealing with silk garments.
It is further estimated that export of silk and silk products from India were to the tune of 246 million US dollars in the year 2020.
The silk products exported include natural silk yarns, garments, carpets, fabrics and yarns. Fabrics and madeups accounted for the largest chunk amongst exported items, followed by garments and silk carpets.

Silk also occupies pride of place amongst domestically manufactured items, particularly ladies wear. Male traditional wear also consist of many items made of silk.
Silk has a long history in India. It is known as Resham in eastern and north India and Pattu in southern parts.

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