Silk is a natural protein fiber produced from the silk glands of silkworms and some form of which can be woven into textiles. Making in triangular prism pattern make silk fabric appearance shimmering which allows silk cloth to refract incoming light at different angles which resultant to produce different colors.
Silk is considered as one of the most expensive and luxurious fabric available in today’s fashion world. These days wearing any dress or accessory in silk fabric has become a society status. For women silk is the material that flaunts and patronizes their beauty. Because of its unique soft gleaming quality, silk fabric is called as Royal garment which was discovered by Chinese. In ancient time it was the fabric of aristocrats and the royals and was the garment exclusively for them.
Merely mentioning silk fabric causes the mind to think luxury. Royal garment has now turned to the chosen material for fashion. From expensive wedding dresses, men’s shirt to tie, from silk sarees or shiny suit-dupatta, silk is the material for it. In fact a little touch of silk just renders the right kind of impression to the whole outfit.
Historically, sericulture was introduced for the first time, into China in 27th Century B.C. In fact, raising silk worms was one of the many chores of the farm women in China. From China, silk was exported via the Silk Route.
To know about how silk is made and the history behind the production of silk is absolutely fascinating. The technique of silk production is called as ‘Sericulture’ that comprises cultivation of mulberry, silkworm rearing and post cocoon activities leading to production of silk yarn. The farmers collect these cocoons and deliver them to the factory, where they are subject to filature operations.
There are innumerable varieties of silk but only few types of commercially valuable natural silk.
Types of silk are :
- China Silk
- Crepe de Chine
- Raw silk
The process of making silk is delicate and involves a number of steps :
- The first step is to sort the cocoons according to color, size, shape and texture
- Then, the cocoons are made to go through a serious of hot and cold immersions. In this way, the sericin (the gummy substance that holds the fibroin strands in the silk filament together) is softened
- Once this is done, the filament is unwound from the cocoon and combined to produce a thread of raw silk. This is the process of reeling. Usually, three to ten strands are reeled at a time
- Finally the skeins, into which the filament was reeled, are packed into bundles called books which are then put into bales to be exported to the mill
- In the mill, the silk fiber is woven into silk fabric, using either a hand loom or a power loom.
India is the second largest producer of silk after China and the largest consumer of silk in the world. According to reports available, sericulture was introduced into India about 400 years back and the industry flourished as an agro-industry. As per the 2001-02 records, India produced 17550 MT of silk. India is known for mainly five types of silk namely, Mulberry silk, Tasar, Oak tasar, Eri, Muga. In India, mulberry silk is produced mainly in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir and West Bengal, while the non-mulberry silks are produced in Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Orissa and north-eastern states.
The public sector organizations in the textile industry are governed by the Ministry of Textiles of Government of India. This ministry offers a wide range of employment opportunities through different public sector organizations, autonomous and statutory bodies, advisory bodies and textile research associations are working under its control. To lift up this sector and for its overall development of sericulture and silk industry, Central Silk Board was established in 1949 as a statutory body under government of India is a national organization. Headquarter of central silk board is located in Bangalore.
The India silk industry is an integral part of the Indian Textile Industry and is among the oldest industries in India. The silk industry in India engages around 60 lakh workers and it involves small and marginal farmers. There is a lot of scope for doing extensive research work in the field of textile for those who want to do something different and dedicate themselves in making new inventions. Indian silk industry is flourishing and has lots of job openings for talented and skilled human resource.
Textile jobs primarily fall into the following categories –
- Textile design jobs
- Textile pattern makers
- Fabric jobs
- Apparel jobs
- Knitting jobs
Other related jobs for professionals mostly prevalent in textile sector are Marketing professionals, Technical professionals, Process development professionals, Packaging professionals, Administrative and Finance professionals. Different courses related to this sector are offered in India. Candidates having any specialized degree in their hands can easily find employment in silk industry.
In developing countries, like India, agriculture and agro-based industries play a vital role in the improvement of rural economy. Globally, silk production is around 70,000 to 90,000 M.T. and the demand for silk is annually increasing by 5%. With the increase in population and also with the increased demand for fashionable clothing items due to fast changing fashion designs in developed countries, the demand for silk is bound to increase even more. International Trade Council is involved in its work to help developing countries to improve their exports.
On the other hand, Sericulture provides gainful employment, economic development and improvement in the quality of life to the people in rural area and therefore it plays an important role in anti poverty programme and prevents migration of rural people to urban area in search of employment.