Silk is a natural protein fiber obtained from the cocoon of a silkworm. It is the natural filament created by silkworm. Sericulture is the rearing of silkworms for their silk. Since, ancient times the use of silk has existed for various purposes. Raw silk was exported from India in ancient period during the Kanishka reign. Silks have always been an inseparable part of Indian culture and tradition. These fibers are also referred as ‘ Queen of fibers’.
Indian silks are known for their fine quality and luster. India stands fifth in the production of silk. The silk industry is a labor intensive industry which provides employment to a lot of farmers. Silks can be differentiated on the basis of the rate species of the silkworm. They are mainly of four types – mulberry, tasar, eri and muga. Mysore state has the pride of producing alone 76% of the total production of raw silk in India. West Bengal, Mysore, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh are the major producers of mulberry silk while states such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Odissa are the producers of non mulberry silk.
Mulberry silk : Mulberry silk dominates the other variety of silks in India. It is the most commonly used silk. It produced by the domesticated silkworm called Bombyx mori. The mulberry silks are the strongest natural fiber. They are durable and lustrous.
Tasar silk : The rearing of tasar silk is practiced by the adivasis and the tribal people since earlier times. Tasar is copperished colored silk. The principle tasar producing states are Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Odissa.
Eri silk : It is also known as Endi silk. It ranks first among the non-mulberry silks. The silkworm usually feeds on castor plant. Its cocoons are white and brick red in color. Bulk amount of these silks are produced in Assam. Small scale production includes states like Bihar, West Bengal, Odissa and Manipur.
Muga silk : It is usually golden yellow in color. It is reared along the Brahmaputra lines. Assam is the producer of muga silks.