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What Is Vegetarian Silk Or Peace Silk?

Updated on October 13, 2016

Vegan friendly silk known as vegetarian silk or peace silk or Eri silk is produced from larvae of silkworms that form cocoons, but with out harming them in the extraction process. Pure silk is beautiful, smooth, royal and elegant, but the process of silk making is not that beautiful. In the traditional process of silk making, the larvae of Bombyx mori silkworms have to be killed, and this is unfortunate when you consider the fact that you can actually make pure silk without killing the silkworms.

In the case of peace silk manufacturing, the larvae are allowed to complete their life cycle and they develop into beautiful moths.

Silk is produced by larvae that will develop into moths if unharmed
Silk is produced by larvae that will develop into moths if unharmed | Source

Pure silk is actually made by the silkworms. In fact, silk is made from the natural protein fibres produced by the larvae of silkworms.

They form the cocoons and stay there till their pupa stage is over. To obtain the silk, the cocoons are placed into boiling water which separates the cocoons from the larvae and in this process the larvae are killed. They never complete their pupa stage nor develop into moths.

To produce silk, you need the help of a lot of silkworms and so they are raised in large numbers in the farms. They are fed on mulberry leaves and the larvae start forming the cocoons from the protein fibres secreted by their glands.

The vegetarian silk known as Eri Silk or Peace Silk

The vegetarian silk known as Eri silk or peace silk is becoming popular all over the world as they do not involve any killing. The silkworms that help produce this kind of silk is Samia Cynthia ricini, which are usually found in the North Eastern parts of India and also China, Japan, Thailand etc.

When silk is produced from the mulberry worms, the manufacturers don't have many choices other than killing the larvae since they have to extract the silk threads with out breaking the threads. If the silkworms are not killed and allowed to come out alive, the silk threads will be torn and consequently you will only get shorter strands which can be quite fragile. This makes the entire process more tedious and you get only broken silk strands which are much short in length.

The solution to this problem is the Eri silk produced from Samia Cynthia ricini silkworms.

So how does eri silk help us to practice non violence and help vegetarians and vegans?

Eri silk is suitable for those who like to practice complete non violence due to religious beliefs or personal choices, and also those who are concerned about the rights and welfare of animals.

Many vegans and vegetarians don't prefer using animal products in accessories and clothes since the manufacturing process harm animals. Since peace silk or eri silk doesn't harm any animals or insects, they are preferred by those who don't support harming animals or insects in the manufacturing process.

When the silkworms that produce the eri silk form cocoons, the cocoons will have an opening in them and so the silkworms can crawl out of the cocoons without breaking the cocoon. This makes the extraction of silk threads easier and the manufacturers don't have to kill the silkworms to get the pure and strong silk!

The other options of peace silk include using wild silk obtained from nature, where the caterpillars would have already left the cocoons. But obtaining this kind of wild silk from nature will be little difficult and the strands will be usually very small, as the caterpillars would have already broken the threads to come out of the cocoons.

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Eri silk is dense, strong and beautiful, just like the traditional silk even though the threads are a little shorter and coarse than the traditional silk.

You can easily blend them with cotton or wool to make beautiful shawls and other dresses. Today even silk saris are made from eri silk, and hopefully the industry is growing without difficulties.

Peace silk threads are simply spun from the cocoons, unlike the traditional silk threads which have to be reeled. The threads are strong, smooth and soft which make them easy to be blended with other fibres like wool, cotton etc.

In India, the production of eri silk is mostly carried out in Assam, an Eastern state in India where the majority of silkworms to produce the eri silk are found in forests and hills. You can even find the eri silk dresses and other products in streets of Assam, and the shawls made with a blend of wool and eri silk are especially common.

I didn't know about the process involving the extraction of silk before and I have used the traditional silk products, and I still can't decide whether it is right to use them. I just wish if there were more options to find the eri silk online, especially when you know the fact that it takes about 10, 000 silkworms to make a silk dress.

Eri silk is a blessing to those who love to use silk, but don't want to harm the silkworms in the process!

Natural fibres that form silk are also produced by various other insects and even plants. But as of now the silk used for textile manufacturing is usually the silk produced by the silkworms, as this is thought to be the best silk suitable for fabrics.

Artificial silk is another option where you get beautiful silk fabrics that is soft and smooth, but of course that is not pure silk like eri silk or traditional silk. Artificial silk threads are made from polyester.

Silk was first discovered and manufactured in China, the discovery being an accidental one. Later, the industry of silk making was spread to other Asian countries like India, Japan, Thailand and also to the Middle East.

The major routes for silk trade between Asia and Europe in the ancient times is popularly known as the silk route or the silk road.

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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Beautiful hub! I like silk and now I know so much more about the great differences. Informative and useful. Voted up and interesting.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Truly fascinating. I had never heard of this. I am pinning this and sharing it.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      I read this excellent hub through the courtesy of FlourishAnyway, who shared it.

      Very informative article! I had never heard about this silk.

      Long time ago, in 1993, I visited cottage industry of silk produced from mulberry larvae. I had enjoyed watching the process, but had felt bad about killing the larvae inside the cocoon by boiling.

      I believe Eri silk is the solution.

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 2 years ago from Orange, Texas

      I had no idea that silkworms had to be killed to make silk. I guess I never thought about it. I've never been a fan of silk since it almost always has to be dry-cleaned. I do have some things made of the polyester silk and that suits my purpose. This is a very informative hub. Thanks for raising awareness!

    • craftybegonia profile image

      craftybegonia 2 years ago from Southwestern, United States

      So beautiful!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Yes, so very interesting indeed. I learned a lot. I've never heard of such.

      Voted up ++++ tweeting and pinning

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing this useful and interesting information. I am very glad to know that it's possible to obtain silk without killing insect larvae.

    • VioletteRose profile image
      Author

      VioletteRose 2 years ago from Chicago

      Hi DDE, I am so glad you found this informative and useful. Thanks so much!

    • VioletteRose profile image
      Author

      VioletteRose 2 years ago from Chicago

      Hi FlourishAnyway, thanks so much for sharing and pinning :)

    • VioletteRose profile image
      Author

      VioletteRose 2 years ago from Chicago

      Hi Suhail, it is so kind of FlourishAnyway to share this hub! I am sure the visit in 1993 must had been so much informative and useful to you. I too believe Eri silk will be the solution!

    • VioletteRose profile image
      Author

      VioletteRose 2 years ago from Chicago

      Hi Ann1Az2, I agree dry cleaning is a must for most of the silk dresses. However I sometimes hand washed some of mine with gentle soap, but if its too costly its not advisable. Hanging the silk dress in sunlight for few minutes is also believed to be good. But I agree, polyester silk is more easier to handle!

    • VioletteRose profile image
      Author

      VioletteRose 2 years ago from Chicago

      Hi craftybegonia, thanks so much for reading :)

    • VioletteRose profile image
      Author

      VioletteRose 2 years ago from Chicago

      Hi Faith Reaper, thanks so much for the vote, tweet and pin. I am so glad you found this interesting!

    • VioletteRose profile image
      Author

      VioletteRose 2 years ago from Chicago

      Hi AliciaC, thanks so much for reading! I agree, it is so nice that it is possible to make silk without killing the silkworms.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

      I've never heard of peace silk, but if silk can be produced without killing any moths than this sounds like a good idea.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago from Texas

      I've never heard of peace silk, but, an interesting hub, voted that way and shared

      I did read an article by an entomogolist about farming silk worms and how the silk is harvisted and the worms are allowed to mature and then they are moved to a different specially prepared room for the adults to start the process all over again.

      Blessings my friend.

      Shyron

      Shyron

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      So very interesting! I had not heard of peace silk before nor was I aware that the silkworm was desroyed in the silk harvesting process

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Quite educational and interesting. I'm glad to hear there's a method of obtaining silk that doesn't harm the larvae.

    • VioletteRose profile image
      Author

      VioletteRose 2 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you all for stopping by and commenting :)

    • jtrader profile image

      jtrader 2 years ago

      Good to learn of Eri silk. I am glad that there's an option that doesn't involve killing the worms.

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 2 years ago from Orange, Texas

      I'm all in favor of not harming silkworms. After all, they work so hard! Interesting information and voted up. When I wear anything silky, it's usually polyester.

    • VioletteRose profile image
      Author

      VioletteRose 2 years ago from Chicago

      Thanks so much for stopping by jtrader and Ann1Az2 :)

    • tazzytamar profile image

      Anna 2 years ago from chichester

      I hadn't ever heard of peace silk before but think it is a wonderful idea! I had always wondered why the silkworms had to be killed in the process of silk extraction... Then again I suppose most large companies don't care about animal cruelty when it's bringing in millions... "Animal cruelty" might sound a bit strong but anything that involves killing or harming an animal for a luxury and non-essential item seems like it to me... Just like angora sweaters (shudder)...

      Anyway! Voted up and useful!

    • VioletteRose profile image
      Author

      VioletteRose 2 years ago from Chicago

      Thanks tazzytamar :) I do hope vegetarian silk production becomes more popular and practical so that the silk worms do not have to be killed in the process.

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