Silk History

Silk Weaving

Colourfull golden sarees they

kept on growning infinitely

impossible to count, they were without number

And in a riot of colours and shades

strand of gold and strand of silks

woven in an everlasting newness (of designs.)

These words are from Bharathiyar the famous tamil poets says about Silks in Panchali Sabadam

SILK

A highly valued animal fibre, silk has long been used for the production of luxrious textiles of the finest quality. Silk is produced by silkworms. The silkworm is not really a worm at a; it is a caterpillar that spins a protective cocoon for use a shelter while it change from a caterpillar into a moth. This cocoon is the source of commercial silk.
Almost all commercial silk is made from cocoons spun by silkworms of the genus Bombyx. The finest quality raw silk and the highest fibre production comes from the commonly demosticated silkworm, Bombyx mori, which feeds on the leaves of the mulberry tree (morus is the Latin word for mulberry).

The whiteness and regularity of the B. mori fibre make it superior to the silk fibres produced by wild silkworm, through wilk silk fibres are also used commercially. They are produced in smaller quantities by various large, wild silkworms of the saturniid moth family, Saturniidae. Tussah, also called tasar or tussore, silk, for example, is produced by species of Chinese and Indian silkworms. Tussah silk varies in colour from brown to silver-grey. Eri silkworms prodece a white, creamy white, or reddish silk, and muga silkworms produced a golden or creamy white silk. Other types of silkworms are cultivated regionally. Silk produced by wild silkworms is generally thicker than that of the B. mori, and the coccons often cannot be reeled, or unwound.

Other animals silk fibres are produced by spiders. However, these fibres are very fine and for various reasons have proved impractical for teltile use.

Silk is stronger than other natural fibres. When dry, filaments are comparable in strength to such synthetic fibres as nylon and polyester; however, silk filaments lose some strength when they are wet. Garments made from silk are lightweight but warm and absorbent. Silk fabrics have excellent draping properties and a natural resistance to creasing and wrinkling. Silk fibres is highly receptive to dyeing, and dyed and printed silk fabrics have a richness and variety seldom found in other textiles.

The major uses of silk are for clothing, including Asian Kimonos, Indian saris, and such Western apparel as suits, dresses, scarves, neckties, and hosiery. Silk is used as bolting cloth (for siting flour and powders) and for sewing thread, surgical sutures, and fishing lines and nets. Silk is also used electrical insulation, bicycle tires, and typewriter and computer ribbons.

LOOMS:

Simple hand weaving was aided by hanging the warp fibers from a treea practice believed to have led to the development of the first vertical looms. The earliest looms date from the 5th millennium BC and consisted of bars or beams that formed a frame to hold a number of parallel threads in two sets. By raising one sets of these threads, which together formed the warp, it was possible to run a weft thread between them. The block of wood that used to carry the weft through the warp is called the shuttle.

One of the most significant improvements to the simple loom was the introduction of the heddle. The heddle is a device that lifts every other lengthwise thread to permit the weaver to pass the weft under a series of warp threads with a single stroke, rather than under one warp thread at a time. The space between the sets of warp threads is called the shed.

The operation of modern hand looms is essentially the same as it was for ancient looms. After the warp threads have been laid out and the ends have been attached on horizontal beams, the weaver activates the heddle by means of either a crankshaft or a foot pedal. The weaver then passes the shuttle, which contains the bobbins on which the weft thread is wound, through the shed, pushing it close to the proceeding row with a comb like device called reed. The beams that hold the cloth rotates to take up the section of cloth already produced.

The first automated loom ( the Jacquard loom) was developed by the Frenchman Joseph-Marie Jacquard in the early 1800s and formed the basis for modern automatic looms. The weaving designs into metal cards that were laced together and fed into the loom to control the weave pattern automatically.

Modern power-operated have become increasingly. The most commonly used power loom is the plain loom, which is used for one-colour fabrics such as those that are made into plain bed sheets. The machine consists of open shuttle that is automatically replenished by a revolving bobbin. Box looms are used for pattern requiring four to eight colours. Threads of different colours are wound on separate shuttles.

The most advanced loom in use today is the shuttle less loom. Weft threads are inserted from revolving cones and are drawn across the warp either by means of long, needle like instruments called extremely powerful, narrow jets of water.

SILK PROCESSES


REFLING

The unwinding of the fine silk filaments from the cocoon is called reeling, and the process is carried out in a building known as a filature. The cocoons are first put into hot water in order to soften the sericin. After soaking, the cocoons are lightly brushed to find the ends of the filaments so that they can be unwound. Although there may be as much 13,000 feet(4,000 meters) of filament in one cocoons, only about one fifth can be reeled into the continuous filaments known as net silk.

Depending on the final thickness that is desired, between five and ten cocoons are usually reeled simultaneously. The filaments are drawn upward together through a small hole or guide to form a single strand. To held the sericin hold the filaments together and to remove any water that may be clinging to them, a system of small pulleys is arranged so that a filament is correct at one point either with itself or with a neighboring filaments. This crossing is known by the French term croisure. The resulting strand is then wound onto a reel and dried. The wound strnd is called a hank.

Reeling was once a long and arduous operation requiring many hours of labour. Today it is highly automated. Modern reeling machines can reel up to 11 pounds(5 kilograms) of raw silks in eight hours. Much reeled silk is traded in hand from, bound into bundles called books. These are packed into bales for sale or export.

SILK SAREES:

The one single dress from that the Indian woman is irrevocably bound to. In length Six yards; in relationship almost umbilical.

Indeed, the saree is like Indian herself so varies, yet threads of similarly run crisscross...Horizontal and vertical, warp and weft.

And in no other part of India does this tradition live more gloriously than it does in Tamil Nadu. And no other kind of saree captures the glory more aesthetically \than the 'Kaithari' the handloom saree.

As more and more Indian women westernize, the weaver of Tamil Nadu only seems to respond more and more imaginatively. Fuelled by his dedication to his craft, steered by the dexterity of his brands.

Yes, yet another 'kaithari' saree has been woven. Another poem has been written by the weaver's skill. Another tribute has been paid to the Indian woman. Another celebration has begun....

For someone, somewhere will choose to buy it, cherish it, show it off, use is and pass it on....

DESIGN MOTIFS:

There are some designs motifs used in Thirubuvanam Sarees are 1. Mango 2. Kalasam 3. Temple 4. Rudraksahm 5. Diamond 6. Neli 7. Kodi visiri

MANGO: If the manga-malai (mango Necklace) is a treasured piece of jewellery among Tamilian women, the mango motif is favourite of the weavers. Found in any number of sarees with innumerable variations and embellishments. KALASAM: Complete with mango leaves and coconut, the kalasam is central to many a Tamil religious ritual. Replicated in different metals, adorning puja shelves, the kalasam finds a place in a silk saree too.

TEMPLE: The most celebrated motif of them all. Immersed as be is in the city of a thousand temples, the Kancheepuram weaver can't help but flaunt his heritage the temple gopuram or gateway.

RUDRAKSHAM: Beads of the Indian navy used to keep count of the 'japam' or continuous chanting of God's name. In the weaver's bands, beads of gold.

DIAMOND: Is a Tamilian bride ready for marriage? Yes, if her diamond earrings ar ready! The weaver can't help but weave in the diamond motif every now and then.

NELI: From forehead to loc, the Tamilian woman finds may ways to tell the worls she's married the neli or toe ring is slipped in by the husband when be places her feet on the grinding stone during wedding.

KODI VISIRI: A creeper, a grapevine.....Yet another of nature's patterns that the weaver draw from.

BORDERS: Another specialty 'korvai' meaning solid or contrast borders. With a series of delicately woven motif in zari. The three bells denoting the chalangai or anklet could well be followed by the chequered pattern of the peacock's eye, the arm jewel - vanki, bunches of grapes, creepers and mangoes....All in one saree! And the touch of surprise - 'meena' work or coloured thread in between the zari.

COLOURS: Revel in the plains the endless brightness of parrot green, the depth of coffee brown, the shimmer of golden yellow....chose your moods. Or be surprised by the double coloureds the blue -green mayilkazhuthu (peacock's neck), the red-orange of a lion, the violet-green of a new-born mango leaf....

PALLUS: Elaborate end pieces woven separately and then skillfully woven together with the main body, without any signs of a joint....the wonder of pitni work.

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