When one thinks of the quintessential Indian woman, the inevitable picture that comes to mind is a beautiful, lithe lady clad in six yards of absolute magnificence. Our land has been blessed with many virtues, one of them being natural fibers that make India home to some of the finest fabrics in the world. And what’s more beautiful than silk? Among the different kinds of silk, tussar silk sarees are a fixture in almost every Indian woman’s wardrobe and rightfully so. Here’s a look at the history of tussar silk and why it is so popular.

Tussar silk sarees also known as Kosa silk sarees, this sarees are made from silk obtained from several species of caterpillars, of the moth genus Antheraea. The other name for tussar silk is wild silk, a name given because the silkworms breed on trees unlike mulberry such as Sal and Arjun found in the forests of Jharkhand. It has deep golden color and is of good texture.

The tussar silk staples are shorter and less expensive in comparison to that of cultivated silk because of the resulting quality of the produce from these silkworms in comparison to that from cultivated types.

The cocoons are boiled to make the cocoon soft for easy extraction of silk, after killing the larvae within the shells. Further, some weavers prefer to allow the silkworm to leave the cocoon before boiling. This takes 10 to 15 days after they have fed on the leaves, and is popularly known as Ahimsa or non-violent silk.

This sarees are mainly found in India, in the states of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, and Bhagalpur in Bihar, which is also famous as the commercial center for the production of Tussar silk. Eastern parts of India like Orissa and West Bengal and a small portion of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh also contributes to Tussar silk production in India.

Tribals in Jharkhand, for whom sericulture accounts as a major source of livelihood and weavers of Bhagalpur are skilled weavers of hand-woven Tussar silk sarees. This sarees are hand spun and colored with vegetable dyes, the fabrics they produce are eco-friendly.

The use of leftover silk from woven fabrics, are also used to create designs on the main fabric and is a by-product of the need for variation in the weaves. The woven tussar silk sarees has a coarse texture, is light on the body, airy and has a comfortable feel to it. The sarees require little maintenance care and attention which requires dry cleaning of the saree mostly recommended.

Hand-woven Tussar silk saris are well known for their texture, zari borders and motifs and the handcrafted designs that enrich them. The tussar silk saree with fancy block prints, batik, Bandhani work on the silk body and appliques or embroidered patchwork accompanying it, is a beautiful creation. Stylish north Indian half and half tussar silk saris having Kantha embroidery and banarsi border are eye-catchers. They are well-suited for Indian weddings, and as bridal attire.

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