Why Is Eri Silk The Queen Of Textiles?
Covering only around 0.2% of the world’s textile fabric production, the demand for silk far outgrows its supply and the market is immense.
Wish to know what makes eri silk an exception?
There are basically four well-known types of silk:
1. Mulberry Silk
It is the world’s most loved and hankered after kind of silk, constituting 80% of silk textiles. The most revered trends are the silk saree worn by Indian women, mekhela chadar of Assam, the jainsem, dhara and mukhli of khasi women in Meghalaya. It originates from the Bombyx mori silkworm, which feeds on leaves of the mulberry plant, Morus indica.
2. Muga Silk
Originating from the Antheraea assama silkworm mostly on the leaves of som tree, this
Silk is the hardest to produce. Likewise, it is also the most expensive, costing upto Rs 25000 a kilogram.
It is a type of wild silk obtained from the Antheraea mylitta silkworm. Tasar is also known as oak tasar. Extensively produced in many countries of South-east Asia, this variety of silk is also produced in bulk in India too. Trees like Arjuna and Jamun are a few important food plants of the tasar silkworm.
4. Eri Silk
And finally, the eri silk, which is indigenous to North east India.
Being the most unique variety of silk, it comes from the silkworm- Philosamia ricini which feeds mostly on the leaves of castor plants. What’s so special about this silk? It is the cocoon, which is open-ended from where the moth emerges. Also, did you know that all other silk cocoons require boiling in hot water unlike eri silk ones?
So, this is what makes it so special!
The Making Of Eri Silk/Ryndia:
Eri silk is also known as ryndia in Meghalaya. Its fiber has a very unique cotton like texture but is a bit rugged as compared to the others. Being extremely weather friendly, eri silk is a preferred fabric in many European countries. Not only this, it is also favoured for making baby nappies due to its tender lustre when spun well!
Eri silk rearing is quite labor intensive, including a lot of meticulous steps along the way:
- Select the best quality cocoon for the seeds.
- Moth production from the silk cocoons.
- Mating of the moths within 12-24 hours
- Laying of eggs within 6-10 days
- Hatching of eggs and birth of the larvae
- Feeding of the larvae on food plants for 32-60 days
- Collect the matured larvae and storing them among dry leaves till they turn into pupae
- Allow the pupae to pierce the cocoon and thread out
- Spin the threads.
You will be amazed to know that eri worm is ‘multivoltine’ i.e., it can be reared for many times throughout a year (5-6 times) The rearers ought to select the best cocoons for the best eggs.
Another fun fact- adult moths tend to live only for 3-10 days without eating anything. It's almost as if the life of a silk moth is dedicated only to procreating! In their very short lifespan, female moths lay about 400-500 eggs, where the eggs hatch in 9-10 days. Also, the worms love to eat and can eat up to 30,000 times their weight of leaves.
How To Spin Eri Silk?
Raw eri silk filaments have a natural coating called sericin, secreted by insects for hardening and waterproofing themselves. The sericin can be removed easily by boiling for 45 minutes.
The spinning of eri silk filaments is usually very labor intensive. Since the filaments don't come out as regular fibers, they have to be drawn by fingers and spun into yarn like cotton/wool.
Eri silk yarn consists of split fibers and knots and is spun by cutting, combing and carding- making it a uniform fiber.
What Meghalaya Has in Store!
As we all understand by now, eri filaments are delicate with the cloth being warm and durable and it softer than wool.
Its natural hues range from very light cream textures and differ between yarns. The shades usually depend on the quality of the worms, their feed, temperature, and climate. Especially in women’s clothing, the shades differ more because they’re dyed in various hues! The price of the yarn depends on the thread diameter. Such diameters are calculated in what is called the New English System and are denoted as 2/60 nm or 2/120 nm or 2/140 nm.
The weavers of Meghalaya always use organic dyes generated from the leaves, fruits, barks or roots. Also, the ways of producing natural dyes are not known by many, which makes it more unique.
Setbacks Of Meghalaya’s Eri Silk Industry
Despite having immense potential, the eri silk industry in Meghalaya remains an untold story. The need of the hour is more participation of full time eri silk producers, rather than the women of villages who find it hard to juggle between the household chores and silk rearing.
The lack of modern equipment is also a necessity, since the methods used in both spinning and weaving are traditional ones. Apart from inadequate production, the health of the workers are also seriously affected as a result of such traditional means of weaving/spinning.
Sadly, many of the eri silk farmers tend to be quite unaware of the faculty of their merchandise. They mostly lose out on huge sums of money to middlemen from other parts of the country (mainly neighbours of Assam)
But here is something to lighten your mood-
In Umden village of Ri Bhoi district, ‘sidentrum’ a German organisation, in collaboration with the Meghalaya government has come to the aid of the weavers by providing them with what they call the ‘Flying 8’ looms which not only work faster but also prevents health issues like back ache of workers.
And yes, with the right technical assistance, training and good markets, there is indeed a massive expectation for the Eri silk industry of Meghalaya to go international!
Eri Silk- Earth’s Best Friend
There is no doubt about the fact that eri silk production is non-violent and a peaceful process. However, Muezart doesn’t certify our silk as 100% cruelty-free, since most silkworms after extraction are sold into the markets.
The Muezart family emphasises on the extremely sustainable, organic and eco-friendly footprint of eri silk fiber. Eri silk is Meghalaya’s glory and so it demands to be protected, manifested and nurtured.
Its lustrous textures will be a gift to your skin and feed your fashion cravings at the same time!
And guess what’s the best part? Eri silk can be used to adorn almost everything in and around you- from draping your windows and furniture to styling your persona!
So, do you wish to be an anomaly in how you buy your clothes?
Then dig deep into our latest eri silk collection