What Is Vegetarian Silk Or Peace Silk?
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.
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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Have you ever heard about peace silk before?
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.