Eri Silk – The Royal and Vegan ways of Ethnic Clothing

You want to come with us on this wonderful journey to discover the world of magic, the world of silk!

No Indian celebration is complete without this beautiful fabric, it’s a good luck charm for religious, joyous, and magical festivals.

Discovery of silk!

Silk is one of the most priced fabrics in the world known for its luster, shine, strength, durability, and luxury, it’s also the most highly regarded fabric in India.

Silk is known to be obtained from silkworms which are cultured on a commercial scale. But have you wondered how this fiber was discovered 5000 years ago?

According to an old Chinese legend, silk was discovered by a Chinese empress who found some white worms eating up the leaves of the mulberry trees in her garden, she noticed that the worms were spinning shiny cocoons around them, she collected some of the cocoons and while inspecting them, one accidentally dropped into her cup of tea, she noticed that the cocoon was actually made from a long thread that was both strong and soft.

This way, the fiber was discovered, but the Chinese guarded the secret of silk for over 1000 years. Silk was introduced to India about 1900 years ago; the story of the introduction is related to a Chinese princess who married an Indian prince, she was very fond of the silk fabric and therefore brought the silkworm eggs to India in her hair dress, she fed them with the Indian mulberry leaves, initiating the silk production in India.

The world production of silk is currently estimated to be around 1,250,000 metric tons per year with China holding top positions with the production of about 70% of the world’s silk, and India also a leading producer, accounting for about 20% of the world production, making it the world second producer and consumer of silk.

Types of silk

There are four varieties of natural silk in the world, made from a variety of silkworms that carry different qualities and features making them a proper fit for specific garments.

These varieties include.

Mulberry silk: this is the most popular of all kinds of silk, producing as much as 90% of silk production. It’s produced by silkworms that completely feed on the mulberry plants. These worms are reared indoors and are completely domesticated. Most of the commercial silk is mulberry silk, the silk obtained from this cocoon is soft, lustrous, and elastic. They can also be dyed into beautiful colors.

The mulberry silk-producing states in India include Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Assam.

Tussar silk: this silk is generated by the silkworm Antheraea Myette, which mainly thrives on the food plant of Asan and Arjun. The tussar silk-producing states include Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand Orissa, West Bengal.

Oak Tussar Silk: this is a finer variety of tussar generated by the silkworm Antheraea Proyelli in India which feeds mostly on natural food plants of oak. The states that produce the oak taser silk in India includes Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, and Meghalaya.

Eri Silk: this silk is commonly known as Endi, Errandi, or Peace Silk. It is a multivoltine vegan silk fabric spun from open-ended cocoons unlike other varieties of silk. Eri silk is the product of domesticated silkworm Philosamia Ricin that feeds mainly in castor leaves. The Eri silk producing states in India includes, Assam, Bihar, West Benegal, Orissa.

Making of Eri silk, from farm to fabric!

Weaving and spinning is more than just a craft in North-East India, this tradition of weaving in India’s north-east region is celebrated around the world, it is seen as the vital link between the natural ecosystem and community livelihood. The making of this silk spun from cocoons after their moth worms have emerged, stands out as the most sustainable silk weaving practice.

Eri silk is closely tied to the cultural identity and sustenance of communities throughout the region.

The making of the peace silk starts from collecting larvae which are fed castor leaves to aid their growth, after they have molted several times, they spin a cocoon which solidifies upon contact with air, this process takes about 2-3 days. The formed cocoons are removed from their spinning beds traditionally (local weavers use gunny bags as bed materials for Eri silkworm cocooning). After the cocoons are made, the Eri silkworms are gently extracted from the open-mouth end of the cocoon to avoid harming or killing them, the cocoons are thereafter selected, loosely tied in muslin cloths, and boiled in alkaline soapy water for 45minutes to 1hour, this is done to remove the fibroin and sericin that stick the filament together.

The boiled cocoons are washed thoroughly in cold water to remove soap solution, this continues until water is clear. Individual cocoons are then stretched or opened in plain water into sheets, each cocoon sheet is dipped in a small amount of cold water and gently tapped on the surface to get a round shape fiber sheet. The sheets are then spun by hand using a traditional hand spinner called ‘Takli’, the spun yarn is thereafter winded to a suitable size to form ERI SILK SKEINS.

The Eri yarn can be dyed into different colors (using natural ingredients like turmeric, lac, iron ore, tree leaves, and tree barks as mordents) by soaking the yarn into boiling water containing the natural agents.

The dyed Eri yarn is dried in the sun for colors to seep into the yarn, this is then converted into a linear thread form and wound on the bobbin to enable laying out of yarn length for weaving, the laying out of yarn is done traditionally on floor looms as well as frame looms and fly shuttle looms, they are thereafter woven into stoles and shawls of different colors and designs.

Eri silk and sustainable fashion!

How to identify Eri silk: The Eri silk is often referred to as the QUEEN OF SILK, this is because of the elegance of the fiber combined with comfort which creates a unique style statement that cannot be duplicated.

It’s always beautiful to feel one of the Eri silk fabrics created in this sustainable way, the fiber is known to be;

  • A Strong and resilient fiber
  • Soft to touch but not slippery
  • It has sheen and luster
  • Its hypoallergic, which means that it causes little to no allergies in human beings
  • It absorbs moisture
  • It’s warm in winter and cold in summer.
  • It is easy to maintain.

Sustainability of Eri silk: we are in a world where many things are fast, in the same way, we are forgetting the truth about being honest and pure, we keep going for easy options, becoming less sympathetic in our decisions and judgment of all things, including human, animal and environmental safety.

Eri silk is a safe and eco-friendly fabric. This non-violent peace silk is cruelty-free and raised naturally from the cycle of egg till when the caterpillar reaches full size and is ready to spin her cocoon. This makes Eri silk the most sustainable silk in the world consuming a meager 0.001% of water. Its sustainability still extends towards a few more important aspects mentioned below.

  • It fits the circular economy: The Eri silk does not constitute pollution or emission of dangerous gas into the environment during the production process and there is zero waste of every single Eri cocoon. This minimum wastage of resources makes this silk a model of a circular economy.
  • Hydrophilic and easy to maintain: We all love it when we wear clothes that are comfortable and allow our skin to breathe. The Eri silk absorbs water more than any other silk in the world. The most amazing side of this silk is that it’s easy to maintain. It can be washed by hand or machine using a gentle cycle. Drying this silk directly under the sun tends to pale the color.

Read about Kala Cotton fabric from the hinterlands of Kutch driving sustainability impact for the new age design house

In conclusion

For occasions that require sophistication and a touch of regality, a saree, dress, or ethnic jacket made out of this silk is the perfect fit for any event. You can change the way you buy clothes today, show that you care about what you wear, the health and safety of others and the environment at large.

Wear Eri silk; be stylish, be human!

Feel free to drop your opinions on this peace silk, we will be in the comment section.

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