Assam silk

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Assam silk (Assamese: অসমীয়া ৰেচম) denotes the three major types of indigenous wild silks produced in Assam—golden Muga, white Pat and warm Eri silk. The Assam silk industry, now centered in Sualkuchi,[1] is a labor intensive industry.

Muga silk[edit]

Muga Silkworms on a Som tree.

Muga silk is the product of the silkworm Antheraea assamensis endemic to Assam. The larvae of these moths feed on som (Machilus bombycina) and sualu (Litsaea polyantha) leaves. The silk produced is known for its glossy fine texture and durability. It was previously reported that muga silk cannot be dyed or bleached due to "low porosity", but this is incorrect; muga takes dye like any other silk. This silk can be hand-washed with its lustre increasing after every wash. Very often the silk outlives its owner.

A set of mekhela chadors made with Muga silk from Assam arranged around a Jaapi and set on a shawl made with Eri silk.

Pat silk[edit]

Pat silk is produced by Bombyx textor silkworms which feed on mulberry (Morus spp.) leaves. It is usually brilliant white or off-white in colour. Its cloth can dry in shadow.

Eri silk[edit]

Eri silk is made by Samia cynthia ricini which feed on leaves of Castor oil plant (Ricinus communis). It is also known as Endi or Errandi silk. Because manufacturing process of Eri allows the pupae to develop into adults and only the open ended cocoons are used for turning into silk, it is also popularly known as non-violent silk. This silk is soft and warm and is popular as shawls and quilts.

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