Chemically speaking, silk is made of proteins secreted in the fluid state by a caterpillar, popularly known as 'silkworm'. These silkworms feed on the selected food plants and spin cocoons as a 'protective shell' to perpetuate the life. Silkworm has four stages in its life cycle viz., egg, caterpillar, pupa and moth. Man interferes this life cycle at the cocoon stage to obtain the silk, a continuous filament of commercial importance, used in weaving of the dream fabric.
India is the second largest producer of silk and also the largest consumer of silk in the world. It has a strong tradition and culture bound domestic market of silk. In India, mulberry silk is produced mainly in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir and West Bengal, while the non-mulberry silks are produced in Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Orissa and north-eastern states.
|Common Name||Scientific Name||Origin||Primary Food Plant(s)|
|Mulberry Silkworm||Bombyx mori||China||Morus indica
|Tropical Tasar Silkworm||Antheraea mylitta||India||Shorea robusta
|Oak Tasar Silkworm||Antheraea proylei||India||Quercus incana
Q. leuco tricophora
|Oak Tasar Silkworm||Antheraea frithi||India||Q. dealdata
|Oak Tasar Silkworm||Antheraea compta||India||Q. dealdata
|Oak Tasar Silkworm||Antheraea pernyi||China||Q. dendata
|Oak Tasar Silkworm||Antheraea yamamai||Japan||Q. acutissima
|Muga Silkworm||Antheraea assama||India||Litsea polyantha
|Eri Silkworm||Philosamia ricini||India||Ricinus communis
Except mulberry, other non-mulberry varieties of silks are generally termed as vanya silks. India has the unique distinction of producing all these commercial varieties of silk.