Ahimsa Silk - A Tale of Non-voilent Silk Production
Author - Divyashree Thacker
Picture credits - www.todayifoundout.com
In today's world many have woken up to the concept of 'sustainable living'. One such fabric that supports sustainable environment is Ahimsa silk. Very few are aware about what happens to the small worms that produces one of the most stunning fabrics, silk. People have assumptions that one has to completely change everything to adapt to eco-friendly living.
However, this can be achieved by making small changes at various levels and taking small steps towards making our earth green and a beautiful place to live.
Since ages, the earth has evolved and human race has developed. They have produced natural and artificial fibres. Silk is one name that strikes while talking about natural fibres. Even today in India, silk is considered a luxury item set aside for special occasions. However, many are not aware of the process through which silk is obtained.
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It is saddening to know what happens to these tiny silkworms that give beautiful shiny silk material. The silk is obtained through a process that kills these small silkworms. There are many types of silkworms but Bombyx mori is chiefly used to cultivate silk. The silkworms are kept in a bamboo basket and mulberry leaves are given to the worms as food. As these worms eat the leaves they give out thick fluid which is raw silk. A silk worm gives about 1000 yards of cocoon. However, it becomes difficult for the silk manufacturers to get single, unbroken thread of silk as long as the silkworm is in the cocoon. Hence, to get silk the cocoons are immersed in boiling water. It kills the worms and long unbroken silk yarn is obtained.
Kusuma Rajaiah from Hyderabad put in great efforts to find an alternative method whereby there is no killing of the silkworms and silk can be still obtained.
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A technical expert from Handloom industry with an experience of 25 years researched for many years. In the year 1991, he invented a technique of obtaining silk without killing the silk worms for the first time in the world known as Ahimsa silk. Ahmisa silk was commercialized in the year 2001. In this technique there is no cruelty done to the silkworms while producing or collecting silk cocoons.
Ahimsa Silk, also known as Peace Silk, is processed from cocoons without killing the pupae inside.
Many vegetarians and even some vegans have decided that it allows them a way to use silk without sacrificing animal life. In the vast majority of cases, it's more complicated than it appears."Ahimsa," meaning "nonviolence," is a part of Buddhist philosophy, stating that humans should refrain from inflicting suffering on others, including non-human and even non-animal life. There are some Jains (a religious group with many similarities to Buddhists) who take this philosophy so deeply to heart that they avoid killing even the smallest creatures. The expressions of the philosophy, particularly in Western culture, are not usually that extreme - but that gives a good example of a strict interpretation of an Ahimsa path. There are two main types of Ahimsa Silk, cultivated and "wild" (semi- domesticated).
A huge range of products are developed from ahimsa silk such as Shawls, stoles, scarves, ties, saris, made-ups, furnishing fabrics, knitwear, 'modern' traditional Indian items, casual wear, dress materials, apparel fabrics, rugs and other diversified products .
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All these items are made of pure ahimsa silk fibre or blends. Dyes used are natural dyes as well as chemical.
The products are tested in the laboratories for its durability, content and colour fastness. Reputed designers and professionals working in this field have provided the groups with the latest design inputs. This constant interactive process between the weavers and designers has resulted in the production of a wide range of Ahimsa silk . Traditional designs have been revived and adapted to current trends to cater to this new market.
There has been much protest against the cruelty done against animals to obtain leather worldwide.
But, not much objection has been raised against killing of silkworms or using silk fabrics, when thousands of silkworms are killed to manufacture silk cloth. So one can say that it is a great revolution in the field of silk production.
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