It is something royal, rich, heavenly, exotic, erotic and sensual. The word brings to imagination all these ideas and more. The qualities of silk have no parallel. Other fabrics pale in comparison to the soft, smooth and fluid silk. This century has witnessed the invention of many a manmade fibers and artificial silks, but there is nothing which can be compared to the exquisite beauty of the original silk. Silk is a natural fiber, which does not absorb moisture. It is cool in summer and warm in winter. But silk has the quality of absorbing dyes, thus making it possible for weavers to experiment with different kinds of shades, designs and finishes for silk fabrics.
Silks in India:
India has a rich silk-ruled heritage. This is one of the most precious gifts of the nature. This has a very ancient history. This was used as early as 1725 BC., which is supposed to have been discovered by a Chinese princess and sponsored by the empress. It was quite for a long time the manufacturing methods were unknown to all till about 2500 to 3000 years BC. Japan is the major silk producing and exporting country. No other fabric is as soft as silk is and as such its fall on the body is also alike exotic and sensual. It has various uses, from to saree to carpets, furnishings and embroidery. The isothermal properties of silk are the reason to keep warm in the winter and cool in summer. Its hosts of other qualities are the reason for its much demand. Its strength and fineness enable intricate and delicate embroidery and also to be used in operational theatres for stitches. Silk is still respected in Japan and is put into use by all. China exported silk to other countries at this time and there after it had been expanded to other places that have also learnt the art of manufacturing silk for commercial purposes. Silk carpet making was not a Chinese tradition but it was born of wool weaving of nomadic tribes. The Kimono is the most important Japanese garments works with lag, widely cut lose trousers. The colors used were given a hazy landscape.
India is a store house of indigenous silk moths, the cocoons of which are suitable for weaving. Customs surrounding the care and gathering of wild cocoons are probably being practiced with little or no change over the years. The 'silk forests' are considered to be sacred and the locals protect the caterpillars from predators and later harvest the cocoons. It is not clear who brought the techniques of silk-reeling to India. While some believe that Buddhist monks or missionaries are responsible for this, there are some who feel that the Bodo tribe of Assam, who originally migrated from Central Asia, are the ones who brought the reeling technology with them.
Sacred for Hindus:
Fine, tightly woven silk was valued not only for its beauty and luxury, but also for its purity. Hindu's treat silk as a pure substance-so much so that they feel that there is no need to wash silk fabrics before ceremonial use. One of the reasons why Hindu's treat silk as a pure substance is that it is produced from the cocoons of moths which have completed their cycle and have broken out of the cocoons. Hence no killing is involved for the production of silk, and thus it becomes sacred and unpolluted. Not only for ceremonial use, Hindu's and Jain's use silk to make the ropes which are used to pull the sacred processional chariots and also for the garments of the deities.
Assam: Assam is one of the seven sisters of the North East India. The beauty and elegance of Assamese range of crafts has its own charm. The Muga of Assam to the world is the golden silk fiber 'Muga' which is available only here throughout the world. It is derived from the worm known as 'Antheraea assama'.
Muga silk is sumptuous royal, heavenly; it is exotic, erotic and sensual. But most of all, it is simply sheer beauty with ample strength and durability. Besides this, muga is washable at home and is free from the dry-cleaning hassles, unlike other silk fabrics. The muga silk filament due to less porosity cannot be bleached and hence cannot be dyed. All that glitters is not gold but all that is golden and shimmering is muga silk. The qualities of muga are unrivalled by any other fiber or fabric, and any comparison to muga is flattering to the compared.