The country produces the most silk in the world after China. The ruling kingdoms spread of the Indian subcontinent comprised brocade weaving centers, primarily located in Gujarat, Delhi, and many parts of south India. The weavers in the northern region developed techniques of weaving silk influenced by Persia and its neighbors. Experts from these western parts of Asia came to work with and teach local workers their weaving skills during the 14th-century Mughal rule.
Silk typesThe silk-weaving techniques from the depths of India’s history stand strong even today, establishing a consistently profitable market demand and consumption of silk, providing employment to millions across the country. India produces the largest quantity of Mulberry silk in the world. The other types of silk from the country include Tasar, Eri, and Muga – varying in the species of silkworms used. These come primarily from the southern and northeastern states, including Jharkhand and West Bengal.
Assamese silk is synonymous with the main types of indigenous wild silks Muga, white pat, and Eri. All of this is registered under the trademark Sualkuchi’s, where this labor-intensive market is headquartered. Mysore and north Bangalore contribute to nearly 70 percent of mulberry silk production, while Kanchipuram is the signature silk from Tamil Nadu owing to its distinct Zari (fine golden/silver thread) work. Another popular silk is Banarasi, defined by its heavy gold work, minute detailing, and net-like pattern. Silk goods from different regions have their distinct design and are worn for special occasions including weddings and festivals, mostly as sarees.
Silk wearSilk is used widely in the textile and apparel industries. Under the Central Silk Board of India, a statutory body under the Ministry of Textiles, several silk centres have been set up across 11 states in the country to develop and support silk farming and the market. The country’s exports of silk fabrics made up over 112 million U.S. dollars in the fiscal year 2022.
With the rise of conscious consumerism, Ahimsa silk was the eco-friendly update that the industry needed. In 2006, Kusuma Rajiah from Hyderabad successfully patented a method of extracting silk without killing the caterpillars. This took ten days instead of the traditional 15 minutes of boiling cocoons. Although Ahimsa or non-violent silks are priced higher, it is a change that will probably give the industry a sustainable facelift and a stronghold in the fast-growing vegan market globally.