Silk is one of the oldest fibers known to man, as well as one of the
most expensive and most sought-after. What most people don't know is
that silk is an animal fiber. Although many insects produce silk to create their cocoons and webs, only the filament produced by the mulberry silk moth (in its pupa stage,
known as 'silkworm’) is used by the commercial silk industry.
Producing silk is a lengthy process and demands constant close
attention. To produce high quality silk, two steps must be accurately
administered, the diet on which the silkworms feed should be carefully monitored and the moths must be prevented from hatching out of their cocoons.
The diet is very important because there is prescribed nutrition that
the silkworms need in order to produce the finest quality silk. The reason the moth cannot be allowed to hatch is more complex. The silk is spun into a cocoon and can reach around 1,500 meters long in
one strand. If the silkworm is allowed to complete its metamorphosis into a mulberry silk moth and
break out of the cocoon, the thread gets damaged. Therefore, the
cocoons are boiled, killing the silkworms. This enables them
to be unraveled carefully by hand without any breakages in the silk strands.
It is important to point out that this present method of commercial
production of silk causes "himsa" damage, or violence to the silkworms
and the ecosystem. There are alternative processes which can be
applied to commercial mulberry silk production and can offer an aesthetic as
well as ethical eco-friendly product. This patented process leaves the
silkworm unharmed so that it can live its full life once by transforming
into a moth. This non-violent or “AHIMSATM™ SILK” is produced by staying away from
the method of hand spinning. The solution is to spin the mulberry fiber
mechanically, allowing for a finer thread and high quality fabric.
Though more expensive than regular silk, the process saves millions
of lives of mulberry silk moths.