THE LEAD STAR Outlets
Vol 6 Issue 31, Jul 31 - Aug 6, 2015
    Citizen Reporters      |   | Submit Story
testpage

Art of making ‘non-violent’ silk saris

   By  Rama Devi Menon
   Hyderabad
05 Aug 2015
Posted 29-Oct-2010
Vol 1 Issue 9

A traditional silk sari is part of a woman’s life. But weaving a single six-yard splendor involves taking the life out of 10,000 silkworms. Breaking from that traditional method of extracting silk, Kusuma Rajaiah, a senior technical officer with Andhra Pradesh State Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society Ltd (APCO) found a way out: No loss of life, yet gleaming silk.

It all started with a general query from Janaki Venkatraman, wife of former Indian President Venkatraman, during her visit to Hyderabad in 1990 as to whether APCO made silk saris without killing silkworms.

That prompted Rajaiah to experiment with a process for the production of silk that did not entail the killing of silkworms. The life cycle of a silkworm (Bombyx mori) does not last for more than a couple of months and it has the usual four stages – eggs, caterpillar, cocoon and adult moth. The adult moth, which has been completely domesticated for ages, has lost its ability to fly high or live in the wild.

 

Silk sulk: there is little awareness regarding the inhuman method used to produce silk garments 

The caterpillars of silkworm feed on mulberry leaves for up to four weeks, growing in size by almost 10,000 times, before they begin secreting a viscous liquid from their glands, which is a combination of fibroin (silk) and sericin (gum). They form a white cocoon around themselves and it is at this stage that they are dropped into boiling water (with the caterpillar still inside them) to make conventional silk. However, Rajaiah decided to wait for a week until the caterpillar metamorphosed into a moth and flew away from the cocoon before extracting the silk filament.

Although the cocoon is now damaged by the adult moth that has made a hole on the surface, and yields much less silk, Rajaiah has no regrets. “God made all creatures. Several people criticized my method of silk extraction. They believe that it is no big deal to kill the caterpillar since the moth survives for just about a week after coming out of the cocoon. But I feel, all creatures have the right to live their lives to the fullest. Will a man agree if his life is cut short by a week?” he asks.

“The damaged cocoon does not yield a continuous silk thread and it has to be spun again by machines and it takes almost two months for the final product, that too after incurring a heavy loss of silk,” says Rajaiah. The final product is also twice as expensive as the product made by conventional methods, he adds.

In 2002, Rajaiah received the patent for “Ahimsa Silk” from the Patent Office of the Government of India. Rajaiah, who creates his own designs, uses eco-friendly vegetable dyes. Ahimsa International of New Delhi conferred an award on Rajaiah in 2008 for his humane approach toward silk production. Rajaiah also received the “Shining World Compassion Award” from the Supreme Master Ching Hai International of Taiwan the same year.

Although animal rights activists across the globe have been persuading people to shun products such as leather made from animal skin, there is little awareness regarding the inhuman method used to produce silk garments.



Print  |  Email  | 
 Share   


You might also like:

Reform policing

India’s intelligence agencies are in shambles. By pointing fingers at Pakistan each time there’s a blast our agencies are shirking responsibility. Experts offer suggestions to set right things

Read More

Double hurt

Armed conflict and environmental degradation affect all. But they hurt women more as Chetna Verma found in Mendhar district of Jammu and Kashmir where too many limbs had been lost to landmine

Read More
Stories on Innovations & Innovators
THE LEAD STAR
adyar bakery
 
Mentoring Tamil Nadu



Popular Stories

People’s bridge

The new 225 feet long bridge across river Ghaggar, linking the villages of Panihari and Alikan in Haryana, is a model project. Costing Rs 1.5 crore, the bridge is an example of a people’s initiative, funded by the public, says Partho Burman

Read More

Barefoot protector

From a ‘crying bed’ that alerts mom to change baby’s diaper to ‘auto-safe’ helmet making distress call in the event of an accident, Rudra Narayan Mukherjee has fabricated a plethora of devices from a tin-roof lab, says Santosh H K Narayan

Read More

Poverty’s child

Once a domestic help, it is just natural that Anuradha Bhosale dedicated her life to protect children from exploitation. Kavita Kanan Chandra tells us how she charted her path out of poverty through education and work among child labourers

Read More

Chicken dream

It is sheer grit and determination that took B Soundararajan, MD of Suguna Holdings, to such dizzy heights. P C Vinoj Kumar meets the man, whose poultry business makes a turnover of Rs 5500 crore

Read More

A grandpa’s story

At 97, Sudhanshu Biswas is a busy man. Taking care of 50 boys and 6 senior citizens, meticulously monitoring if they are served food on time and so on, at his home near Kolkata, he keeps visitors waiting. G Singh found the waiting worthwhile

Read More

Caring by habit

A Chennai woman’s simple gesture of donating the money she gets from selling old newspapers, collected from homes, to two orphanages is an inheritance from her parents, who always took care of poor youth at their home, says P C Vinoj Kumar

Read More

From scratch

ConceptWaves is a successful company. But 10 years ago its founder Raghu Kanchustambham launched his first project as his team was falling apart. Sapna Gopal traces the entrepreneur’s journey

Read More

Lavender dream

Realising that medicine was not her calling, Gazalla Amin pursued a dream to cultivate aromatic plants, never to look back, says Afsana Rashid, explaining the blossoming of entrepreneurship

Read More

Fresh and sweet

A sweet idea struck the young Coorgi woman when she was working in a hotel. Chayaa Nanjappa never looked back, despite all odds, and today her Nectar Fresh products, like honey and jam, are stocked in upscale hotels. Preethi Nagaraj meets her

Read More

Care for birds

A computer engineer by calling, Arundhati Malhar Yatish Mhatre’s heart goes out to birds. Her passion is on display at her seventh floor flat in Mumbai, where winged visitors fly in for breakfast, lunch, dinner and rest, says Afsana Rashid

Read More
 
Kudos image

"The Weekend Leader not only gives a glimpse of the better things happening around us but also tells stories of people who made it possible.”

Ajay Chaturvedi, Entrepreneur More Kudos
 
Archives  |   Columns  |   About Us  |   Contact Us  |   Feedback  |   Response  |     |   Cheers!  |   Support Us  |   Friends of Positive Journalism
© Copyright The Weekend Leader.com, 2010. All rights reserved.