PROSPECTS & CHALLENGES
Student name: Tintu Johnson
Course name: Biodiversity & Bioprospecting
Program: IBT Sem:1st
Faculty: Dr. Subhash Chandra Diyundi
Dr. Biswarup Basu
HISTORY OF SILK
A Chinese tale of the discovery of the silkworm's silk was
by an ancient empress Lei Zu, the wife of the Emperor.
She was drinking tea under a tree when a silk cocoon fell
into her tea and the hot tea loosened the long strand of silk.
As she picked it out and started to wrap the silk thread
around her finger, she slowly felt a warm sensation.
When the silk ran out, she saw a small larva. She realized
that this caterpillar larva was the source of the silk.
She taught this to the people and it became widespread.
Chinese Empress Drinking tea
under a tree
into hot tea
Sericulture, or silk farming, is the rearing
of silkworms for the production of raw silk.
Bombyx mori is the most widely used species of
silkworm and intensively studied.
Stages of production of silk
The silk moth lays eggs.
The eggs hatch, and the larvae feed on mulberry leaves.
When the silkworms are about 10,000 times heavier
than when they hatched, they are ready to spin a silk
The silk is produced in two glands in the silkworm's
head and then forced out in liquid form through
openings called spinnerets.
The silk solidifies when it comes in contact with the air.
The silkworm spins approximately 1 mile of filament and completely encloses
itself in a cocoon in about two or three days.
Due to quality restrictions, the amount of usable silk in each cocoon is small.
As a result, 5500 silkworms are required to produce 1 kg of silk.
The silk at the cocoon stage is known as raw silk. One thread consists of up to
48 individual silk filaments.
Appearance of silkworm
Silkworms begin as wormlike larvae with the three
distinct body parts of an insect. After spending time in
a cocoon, the silkworm morphs into a scaly, four-winged
After hatching from eggs, the worms moult four times
before spinning their cocoons.
Silkworms eat the leaves of the mulberry tree or can
exist on an artificial diet.
Moriculture is the science of mulberry cultivation to
rear silkworm for silk production.
When the silk worm forms a covering around itself by secreting a protein , this
is called the cocoon stage.
It is at this time that the cocoons are delivered to the factory by the farmer.
These factories are called filature operations.
There they are sorted by color, size, shape and texture. They usually range
from white and yellow to grayish.
After the sorting, the cocoons have to be boiled in water, while they are still
intact, for 5 minutes while they are being turned gently.
They are taken out of the water and a dissecting needle is used to pick up the
strands. A single strand that will come off easily is wound around a pencil.
It is unwound in one continuous thread, which are collected into skeins. The
process is called “reeling.”
Such 3 to 10 or more fine strands are reeled together to produce the desired
diameter of raw silk. This is known as "reeled silk."
This silk is reeled into skeins, packed into small bundles called books and
then shipped to silk mills around the world.
This silk is woven into cloth and sarees. India is the largest consumer of silk in
the world. In India, silk is worn by people as a symbol of royalty while
attending functions and during festivals.
• Silk Road” was the world’s longest trade route
between Eastern China and Mediterranean
Sea. Silk, the most valuable commodity in
those times was transported along this road.
• China was the first to start sericulture and the
cultivation of silk worm spread throughout
• Today, China and India are the two main
producers, together manufacturing more than
60% of the world production each year.
Silk was exported along the Silk Road (the ancient trade route linking China and the
Roman Empire). This trade brought China a great wealth, but the Chinese did not give
away the secret on how silk was produced
Though India is the second largest silk producer in the World after China, it
just 5% of the global silk market, since the bulk of Indian silk thread and silk
cloth are consumed domestically.
Germany is the largest consumer of Indian silk.
The sericulture industry is landbased as silk worm rearing involves over 700,000
farm families and is concentrated in the three Southern states of Karnataka,
Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh. (The states of Assam and West Bengal are
also involved in the industry to a certain extent).
Silk, the queen of the fabrics still commands passion of consumer right from 2200 BC to
till today, nationally and internationally. The export potential of Indian Sericulture
Industry is evident from the fact that the annual export is Rs.2879.56 crores during the
Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Jammu Kashmir are
the five traditional states accounts for around 90% of the total production
About two and half centuries ago silk was introduced into
Karnataka by Tipu Sultan, the ruler of the State. Today it is the
biggest silk producing centre in India.
Sericulture introduced in TamilNadu from the border area of
Karnataka during early 1960. Now TamilNadu Stands number one
in Bivoltine Silk production in India.
Andhra Pradesh occupies 1st position in productivity and 2nd
position in the country next to Karnataka in production of Silk.
Andhra Pradesh produces all the four popular varieties of Silk
worm cocoons namely Mulberry, Tasar, Eri and Muga. Andhra
Pradesh has got very strong and traditional weaving base with
more than a lakh number of hand looms mostly concentrated
in weaving pockets like Dharmavaram, Pochampally,,
Gadval, Patur, Peddapuram, Narayanpet, etc.,
DIFFERENT TYPES OF SILK WORMS IN INDIA
• Mulberry silk
• Eri silk
• Tasar silk
AHIMSA SILK-PEACE SILK
Ahimsa Silk, also known as Peace Silk, is processed from cocoons without
killing the pupae inside. Many vegetarians and even some vegans have
decided that it allows them a way to use silk without sacrificing animal life. In
the vast majority of cases, it's more complicated than it appears. I feel that
anyone who is using these silk products as part of a vegan lifestyle should
carefully consider the process, and see if it really fits with their philosophy.
"Ahimsa," meaning "nonviolence," is a part of Buddhist philosophy, stating
that humans should refrain from inflicting suffering on others, including non-human
and even non-animal life. There are some Jains (a religious group
with many similarities to Buddhists) who take this philosophy so deeply to
heart that they avoid killing even the smallest creatures, and provide special
houses where insects swept up in household dirt can live out their lives. The
expressions of the philosophy, particularly in Western culture, are not
usually that extreme - but that gives a good example of a strict interpretation
of an Ahimsa path.
There are two main types of Ahimsa Silk, cultivated and "wild" (semi-domesticated).
Most cultivated Ahimsa Silk is Bombyx mori. It is raised just like
conventional cultivated silk, right up to the point where the cocoons would
be stifled, or processed with heat, in order to kill the pupa and keep it from
breaking through the cocoon. The Ahimsa cocoons are all allowed to hatch
and breed, and the silk is processed from the hatched cocoons. In some
cases, the cocoons can be cut open and the pupa tipped out; this avoids
the moth soiling the cocoon with urine. The main issue that I have with this
style of cultivation being vegetarian-appropriate, is that each fertilized
female moth will lay between 200 and 1000 eggs, averaging around 500. In
some strains, the eggs will require refrigeration - without refrigeration, the
living embryos within the fertilized eggs will wither and die over the course
of a month or two. If they are refrigerated, they will hatch upon removal
from refrigeration, in which case they have to be fed immediately, or they
will die of starvation and dehydration. Either process will require the
destruction of approximately 200 - 300 embryos or hatchling silkworm per
moth, for any amount that exceeds what is required for the next crop.
Instead of killing one pupa for the silk of the cocoon, it kills hundreds of
There are two other main types of silk worm used for Ahimsa Silk, Samia
ricini, the Eri silk moth, and the various Tussah / Tasar moths, such
as Antheraea pernyi, the Chinese Tussah moth, Antheraea mylitta, the Indian
Tasar moth, and Antheraea assamensis, the Muga moth.
HOW CAN WE IDENTIFY SILK?
• Sometimes, artificial silk are sold out in the
name of Natural silk. This can easily be
detected with a simple burn test . It will give a
smell of burning and, if not it is not a natural
HEALTH HAZARDS IN SERICULTURE
Handling of dead worm with bare hand
contributes to infection and illness
Standing almost about 12to 16 hour a day can
lead to problems such as backaches, spine
problem , and problem related to vision
Continuous exposure to the noise made by
spinning and winding machines and looms
where the fabrics is woven , result in hearing
A FEW BRAIN TEASERS FOR YOU…..
Q:The scientific name of the silkworm is
a. Morus alba
b. Bombyx mori
d. None of these
Q:Which term is NOT related with silk
Q:Which of these is NOT a stage of
a silkworm’s life?
Q:The silkworm is (a) a caterpillar, (b) a larva.
Choose the correct option.
(iii) Both a and b
(iv) neither a nor b
Q:Which among the following is
an animal fiber?
• A filament from a mulberry cocoon can be
more than a kilometer.
• Silk is stronger than an equivalent strand of