Silk is a popular fabric yarn in India where mulberry and other forms of silk are cultivated and silk fabrics made, in different traditional pockets of India. The love for silk fabrics has not diminished till this day on account of the soft, smooth rich-feel and lustrous appearance. The love for tradition and silk go hand-in-hand and Indians in all corners of the country and globe have always sought silk fabrics for special and exclusive occasions like weddings, traditional festivals, grand parties and the like.
Take the South Indian silks that are made of very good quality silk. Parties, important social events, corporate functions are all occasions for the use of silk handlooms. South Handloom Silks are famous for their soft feel, rich thread work, attractive motifs and patterns, contrast borders in a wide range of vibrant colours. Dharmavaram, Arani, Narayanpet, Venkatagiri, Mangalagiri, Uppada, Bangalore, Mysore, Coimbatore, Arani are some of the pockets famous for their individual brands of silk.
Mysore silks and Kanchipuram or Kanjeevaram Sarees have a special place in the fabric world. The Kanchipuram Silks are made of pure silk, with motifs having zari of silk threads dipped in liquid gold and silver. The appeal of the Kanjeevaram Silks lie in the elegant broad borders with colours and designs different from that of the body. Typical motifs are sun, moon, peacock, swan, lion and mango. Themes like jasmine flowers scattered between boundaries, parallel lines running across or temple structures are also popular.
Benaras has its pride of place as the traditional provider of rich heavily adorned pure silk sarees which have stood the test of time for the quality and magnificence of the weave. It is well-known that no average North Indian marriage will take place without the Banarasi saree being part of the bridal attire and worn by the ladies present for the occasion. It is just like its counterpart in the southern part of India, the Mysore Silks, a regal attire for the tradition-loving Indians. The Chanderi Silks of Madhya Pradesh (MP), are known for their sheer quality, fine texture and marvellous work in art and design. Chanderi Silks have zari brocades with embroidery of different patterns as Zari, Zardosi, Ari, Gota, Chikan, to name a few. Tussar Silk, also known as -Kosa’ Silk is -wild silk’, from silkworms breeding on trees in the forests of Jharkhand. The raw silk has a deep golden colour and is of good texture. Hand-woven Tussar Silk fabrics are well known for their texture, zari borders and motifs and the hand crafted designs that enrich them.
The East has its handloom silks from Bengal and Orissa. Bengal is famous for its handloom silk saris. It is fine, smooth, of good texture, airy and light on the body. Popular for its comfort the Bengal Silks are preferred in colours of red, green, yellow, blue and their shades. Silk brocade designs suited to the base colour, are decorated with attractive motifs. Jamdhani hand weaving is a necessary accompaniment for Bengal fabrics where cotton and gold thread weaving create motifs of geometric patterns and floral designs in colourful hues. Dhania Khali and thangail are popular weaving styles. Nature, the sun, the moon and stars are some of the popular motifs.
Bomkai and Sambalpuri are silk handloom sarees of Orissa with the traditional art and shine in terms of quality of weave and beautiful adornments. These include ikkat tie & dye weave, hand-painting with themes from epics, motifs of nature, flora and fauna and exquisite embroidery on the sarees. The North East has Assam and Meghalaya. Assam Silks are made from Muga (golden silk), Mulberry Silk or Eri Silk and have zari work or multi-coloured threads with patterns like fruits, flowers, diamonds, animals, birds as motifs. Meghalaya is known for its handloom woven fabrics. Eri or endi silk and mulberry silk are the raw materials used in silk handloom weaving. Meghalaya silks are known for their durability and texture. Meghalaya silk sarees offer canvas for beautiful eye-catching patterns of zari in zardozi, chikan, ari and gota. Fashion prints of batik, block, bandhini lehriya enhance the beauty of Meghalaya fabric. Adornments with kundans, beads, and pearls add to the allure of the Meghalaya Silk fabric.
Nowadays silk is also mercerized like cotton, improving its fibre qualities in terms of overall strength and lustre. The Silk Crepe fabric is thin, light and transparent. The distinguishing feature of the Silk Crepe is its sparkle and lustre, apart from its soft feel, gauze-like appearance and texture. Cotton silk sarees are a mix of cotton and silk in different proportions in the blended fabric.
Cotton and silk are both natural fibres with good qualities of strength, durability, soft feel, light weight, Indians are airy and very comfortable. Sometimes people are confused about cotton silk and sico fabrics since both are made up silk and cotton. The difference lies in the lustre and feel of Sico sarees which have shine and are softer compared to cotton silk sarees due to the mercerized cotton and mostly pure silk used in Sico.