Silk, one of the most popular textiles in India and in world, was originated from Ancient China. Silks were originally reserved for the Emperors of China for their own use and gifts to others, but spread gradually through Chinese culture and trade both geographically and socially, and then to many regions of Asia. Because of its texture and lustre, silk rapidly became a popular luxury fabric in the many areas accessible to Chinese merchants. Silk was in great demand, and became a staple of pre-industrial international trade. In the ancient era, silk from China was the most lucrative and sought-after luxury item traded across the Eurasian continent, and many civilizations, such as the ancient Persians, benefited economically from trade.
Silk has a long history in India. It is known as Resham in eastern and north India, and Pattu in southern parts of India. India is the second largest producer of silk in the world after China. About 97% of the raw silk comes from five Indian states, namely, Andhra pradesh, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal North Bangalore, the upcoming site of a $20 million "Silk City" Ramnagara and Mysore, contribute to a majority of silk production in Karnataka. India is also the largest consumer of silk in the world. The tradition of wearing silk sarees for marriages and other auspicious ceremonies is a custom in Assam and southern parts of India. Silk is considered to be a symbol of royalty, and, historically, silk was used primarily by the upper classes. Silk garments and sarees produced in Kanchipuram, Pochampally, Dharmavaram, Mysore, Arani in the south, Banaras in the north, and Murshidabad in the east are well recognized. In the northeastern state of Assam three different types of silk are produced, collectively called Assam silk: Muga, Eri and Pat silk. Muga, the golden silk, and Eri are produced by silkworms that are native only to Assam.
According to Hindu Mythology, silk weavers are the descendants of Sage Markanda, the master weaver of Gods who is supposed to have woven tissue from lotus fiber. Also, while cotton is considered to be the favourite fabric of Lord Shiva, silk was preferred by Lord Vishnu. Silk sarees are distinguished by their wide contrast borders. Temple borders, checks, stripes and floral (buttas) are traditional designs found on a Kanchipuram sarees. These are sarees with rich woven pallu showing paintings of Raja Ravi Verma and epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana. Kanchipuram sarees vary widely in cost depending upon the intricacy of work, colors, pattern, material used like zari (gold thread) etc. The silk is also known for its quality and craftsmanship, which has helped earn its name. To weave a Kanchipuram saree three shuttles are used. While the weaver works on the right side, his aide works on the left side shuttle. The border color and design are usually quite different from the body. If the pallu (the hanging end of the sari) has to be woven in a different shade, it is first separately woven and then delicately joined to the Saree. The part where the body meets the pallu is often denoted by a zig zag line. In a genuine Kanchipuram Silk Saree, body and border are woven separately and then interlocked together. The joint is woven so strongly that even if the saree tears, the border will not detach.
Silk sarees possess the same traditional value in south and east, the Banarasi sarees do in the north. They are gifted to the bride as a symbol of gratitude on her wedding. Sarees possess a great importance in ethnic clothes and silk sarees are like cherry on the pie in the world of Indian ethnics.
~Author : Karishma Srivastava