Updated: Feb 9
Sericulture is the process of converting cocoons to usable silk. As we know, silk is an organic fiber made from the rearing of silk worms. There are countless benefits to the use of silk as a fabric but a drawback is that the process involves the death of the worms. In this blog, we address some of the questions a user of silk may have about ahimsa or non-violent silk.
Silk worms are exclusively fed on the leaves of the mulberry plant and hence the name
Is there really an ahimsa silk?
Unfortunately, in today’s market, ahimsa silk is often used as a brand to promote and sell silk sarees. The common method of producing silk requires the silk worms to be killed in their cocoon stage. This method produces the softer variety of silk that most of us are familiar with.
The caveat here is even if the silk worms are allowed to survive past the cocoon stage, while in theory one might call this ahimsa silk since the worms are allowed to survive, this doesnt make the silk “ahimsa”. This is because the silk worms used in sericulture are highly domesticated to the point where they cannot survive in the wild. They need to be constantly fed and incubated in the pupae stage. The adults, after they survive, lay hundreds of eggs. Without active human intervention, none of these newly born worms would be able to survive to adult stage.
In the normal process, the worms inside the cocoon are killed.
True ahimsa silk
True ahimsa silk is the one that’s produced from wild moths. Here the moths break out of the cocoon and are able to survive in the wild, leaving behind the silk. The resulting silk is usually of a slightly harsher texture but still can be used to weave exquisite sarees. Eri, Muga and tussar silks are examples of wild silk.
A wild silk moth. When silk is cultivated in the wild, the worms are allowed to develop into moths and live out their lives. Non-violent silk refers to the fact that the worms arent killed in the process of silk rearing.
Need for Authentic branding
Mulberry silk, which is named after the mulberry leaves fed to these silk worms, cannot be produced in a non-violent method. The difference in texture between this and wild silk is quite obvious and can be used as a method to identify ahimsa or wild silk.
Genuine practices and knowledge among consumers are key to spreading awareness on this subject.
Our efforts in promoting wild silk
While we sell both kinds of silk, we have listed sarees made out of wild silks in a separate section. You can find them listed here.