Ahimsa Silk: The eco-friendly & cruelty free silk
Silk was discovered somewhere around 5000 years ago. And since then, we have accepted silk as a biodegradable and natural fabric. It is biodegradable, but why is there never a question about the killing of silkworms in the entire process? Why have we accepted it as the most valuable fabric?
For making 1 pound of silk, 3000 silk worms are killed & for a single saree, this count goes up to 10,000.
Before we dig further, let’s understand the process of making silk.
How silk is made?
Sericulture, or the cultivation of silkworms, is the process used to make silk fibers. The silkworm caterpillars (Bombyx mori) are kept and fed on fresh mulberry leaves. Later, as they grow, they build a cocoon around themselves to be transitioned into a moth.
The cocoon is made up of protein that’s released in liquid form from a single exit tube present in the caterpillar’s head. This sticks together with a gum called sericin. This entire spinning process takes around 3 days.
These cocoons, along with the silkworm, are boiled in hot water when they are ten days old. This process removes the binding and unravels the silk filament.
Eventually, this inhumane process gave birth to ahimsa silk.
The origin story of Ahimsa Silk
Rajaih Kusuma, of Hyderabad, is credited with having invented ahimsa silk in 1990. He was approached by Janaki Venkataraman, wife of former President R. Venkatraman and inquired about the availability of vegan silk. Kusuma, who had 40 years of experience in sericulture, worked on this and patented Ahimsa silk. And it was in 2001 that his company began commercialising it.
What is ahimsa silk & how different is it from conventional silk?
Ahimsa silk is a humane way of making silk. Here, the caterpillar is allowed to metamorphose into a moth, and it’s only after this phase that the cocoon is used to extract silk.
The moth creates a hole in the cocoon to release itself, and this breaks the long silk fiber. This further has to be spun together to get the yarn. Everything taken into consideration makes ahimsa silk cost double what conventional silk costs.
Other types of silk can also be produced with the same process. But Ahimsa silk differs in texture and shine as compared to conventional silk.