Caterpillars, also known as (aka) cute little worms, in the farms of Kanchipuram have taken the responsibility of producing India’s finest fabric – the beautiful silk! How are worms producing fabric? You see, it all starts with a good diet.
Once silkworms are born, they eat mulberry leaves non-stop for at least 30 days! After that, they build a cocoon around themselves and transform into pretty moths.
Each worm’s cocoon looks like a small cotton ball that is spun with a single thread! This cocoon is made of a protein fiber that hardens when it comes in contact with air. This very fiber is what we call silk. From here, the humans take over to give shape to the worms’ creation.
Once the worm leaves the cocoon after 16 days, the cocoon is taken and dropped into boiling water to make it into a long single fiber. Each fiber is then put into the spinning reel to create silk threads.
Around 409 years ago, two talented weaving communities from Andhra Pradesh namely, the Saligars and Devangars, came to Kanchipuram (a small town in Tamil Nadu). This is the place where they turned the silk fabric into a splendid art by weaving sarees (a long fabric draped by South Asian women). The weavers were very talented. They came up with an idea to recreate the designs and symbols in village temples on the Silk fabric using the gold and silver zari (fine thread). This zari art belongs to Gujarat, a western state in India. Thus the Kanchipuram saree is born by using the weaving expertise of two Indian states.
During major Hindu festivals in India, you see women dressed in rich, colorful Kanchipuram sarees adorned with patterns and drawings in gold.
The fashion and home decor industries owe a huge debt to silkworms for their hard work!