India is a land of remarkable diversity and heart-warming vivacity. In its mesmerising milieu of clothing styles and colourful attires, the silks of India stand out with their soft textures and aesthetic appeal. The fabric is used to create a diverse range of textiles that cater to the clothing desires of all categories of people.
With its shimmering appearance and smooth texture, silk has been enticing Indians for a long time now. So much so that today India ranks as the largest consumer of this fabric. Interestingly, the country is also the second largest silk producer in the world after China.
When it comes to the types of silk fabric produced in India, every region in the country boasts of its unique kind. Such fabrics are woven from different kinds of natural silk produced in India. In this article, we provide you a glimpse of the varieties of natural silks found in India and the types of silk fabric weaved from them.
Silk varieties found in India
There are four types of natural silk produced in India for commercial purposes. These are known as Mulberry silk, Tasar silk, Muga silk, and Eri silk. Among these four kinds, the mulberry silk contributes to more than 80% of the silk produced in the country. That is why often the Indian silks are classified as mulberry silk and non-mulberry silks that comprise of the other three varieties.
Let us start with the non-mulberry silks first.
An exclusive specialty of Assam, the Muga silk is one of the rarest silks produced in the world. It is known for its shimmering glossy texture and extreme durability. This silk is produced by the larva of a silkworm named Assam silkmoth (Antheraea assamensis).
Muga silk is considered to be among the strongest natural fibres and has a distinct natural yellowish-golden tint. One of the most expensive varieties of silk produced in the world, Muga silk is used to make mekhela chador (traditional Assamese wear), sarees, kurtas, stoles, etc.
Muga silk remains a much-coveted item for every Assamese woman. The traditional motifs and intricate patterns weaved on the silk fabric add to its beauty and demand. The uniqueness of the fabric lies in the fact that it increases its lustre with age and after every wash. Muga silk is also known for its longevity. It is often remarked that a muga silk fabric lives longer than its wearer.