We use clothes for many purposes. Mostly we use it to protect ourselves from different effects of weather.
Clothes are also used as -bedsheets, blankets, curtains, tableclothes, towels, dusters, carpets, bags and many others things.
Clothes are very important part of our daily life.
Silk fibres are also animal fibres. Silkworms spin the SILK FIBRES. The rearing of silkworms for obtaining silk is called Sericulture.
In INDIA, women are significantly involved in various kinds of industries related to silk production. These are rearing of silkworms,reeling of silk from cocoons and processing of raw silk into fabrics. Bytheir enterprise,they contribute to the NATION'S ECONOMY. CHINA leads the world in silk production. INDIA also ranks among the leading silk producing countries.
DISCOVERY OF SILK
The exact time of discovery of silk is perhaps unknown. According to an old CHINESE LEGEND, the empress Si-Lung-Chi was asked by the emperor Huang-Ti to find the cause of damaged leaves of Mulberry leaves. She also noticed that they were spinning shiny cocoons around them. Accidentally a cocoon dropped into her cup of tea and a tangle of delicate threads seperated from the cocoon. Silk industary began in China and was kept a closely gaurded secret for hundreds of years. Later on, traders and travellers introduced silk to other countries. The route they travelled is stil called the 'SILK ROUTE'.
LIFE HISTORY OF SILK MOTH
The female silk moth lays eggs, from which hatch larva, which is called caterpillars or silkworms. They grows in size and when the caterpillar is ready to enter the next stage of its life history called pupa, its first weaves a net to hold itself. Thin it swings its head from side to side in the form of the figure of eight. During these movements of the head the caterpillar secrets fiber made of a protein, which hardens on exposure to air, and become silk fibers. Soon the caterpillar completely covers itself by silk fibers. This covering is known as cocoon. The further development of the moth continues inside the cocoon. Silk fibers are used for weaving silk cloth.
The silk yarn (thread) is obtained from the cocoon of the silk moth. There is a variety of silk moth, which looks very different from one another, and the silk yarn they yield is different in texture (coarse, smooth, shiny etc.). Thus, tassar silk, mooga silk, kosa silk, etc, are obtained from cocoon spun by different types of moths. The most common silk moth is the mulberry silk moth. The silk fiber from the cocoon of this moth is soft, lustrous and elastic and can be dyed in beautiful colors.
Sericulture or culture of silkworms is a very old occupation in India. India produces plenty of silk on a commercial scale.
FROM COCOON TO SILK
For obtaining silk, moths are reared and their cocoons are collected to get silk threads.
- Rearing silkworm: A female silk moth lays hundreds of eggs at a time. The eggs are stored carefully on strips of cloth or paper and sold to silkworm framers. The farmers keep eggs under hygienic conditions and under suitable condition of temperature and humidity.
The eggs are warmed to a suitable temperature for larva to hatch. This is done when mulberry trees bear a fresh crop of leaves. The larva called caterpillars or silkworms, eat day and night and increase enormously in size.
Clean bamboo trays are used to keep the worms, along with freshly chopped mulberry leaves. After 25 to 30 days, the caterpillars stop eating and move to a tiny to spin cocoon. Small racks twigs way is provide in the trays to which cocoon are attached. The caterpillar or silkworm spins the cocoon inside, which develops the silk moth.
*Processing silk: A pile of cocoon is used for obtaining silk fibers. The cocoon are kept under the sun or boiled or exposed to steam. The silk fibers separate out. The process of taking out threads from the cocoon for use a silk is called reeling of silk. Reeling is done in special machines, which unwind the threads or fibers of silk from the cocoon. Silk fibers are thin spun into silk threads, which are woven into silk cloths by weavers.
Jute fibres are obtained from the stem of the jute plant. It is cultivated during the rainy season. In India, jute is mainly grown in West Bengal, Bihar and Assam. The jute plant is normally harvested when it is at flowering stage. The stems of the harvested plants are immersed in water for a few days. The stems rot and fibres are separated by hand.
For obtaining wool, sheep are reared. Their hair is cut and processed into wool.
Rearing and breeding of sheep- In India, if we travel to the hills in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttranchal, Arunachal Pradesh or Sikkim or the plains of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat, we can see shepherds taking their herds of sheep for grazing. Sheep are herbivores and prefer grass and leaves. Apart from grazing sheep, rears also fed them on a mixture pulses, corn.