5 Types of Silk and silk worms in India

In India there are five major types of silk are found as per economical important aspect. Those are obtained from different species of silkworms which in turn feed on different food plants. Among them mulberry is the superior in quality. Except mulberry, other varieties of silks are generally termed as non-mulberry silks. India has the unique distinction of producing all these commercial varieties of silk.

1.Mulberry silk:

It is the most superior quality of silk. Most of the commercial silk produced in the world comes from this variety and often silk generally refers to mulberry silk. These silkworms are completely domesticated and reared indoors. In India, the major mulberry silk producing states are Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Jammu & Kashmir which together accounts for 92 % of country's total mulberry raw silk production. Mulberry silk comes from the silkworm, Bombyx mori  which solely feeds on the leaves of mulberry plant. There are some other  species of Bombyx such as :  Bombyx  fortunatux

                                                                   Bombyx  textor

                                                                      Bombyx meridionalis

Bombyx mori                         



2.Tasar silk:

Though the silk quality of tasar is inferior than mulberry but it has its own feel and appeal. This copperish  colour silk is mainly used for furnishing and interiors. Tasar silk is   generated by the silkworm, Antheraea mylitta and Antheraea paphia which mainly thrive on the food plants Sal and Arjun. The rearings are conducted in nature on the trees in the open. In India, tasar silk is mainly produced in the states of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Orissa, besides Maharashtra, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.

Antheraea mylitta (female)                          


3.Oak Tasar Silk:

It is a finer variety of tasar generated by the silkworm, Antheraea proyeli  in India. The main food source is oak plant which found in abundance in the sub-Himalayan belt of India covering the states of Manipur, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya and Jammu & Kashmir.


4.Eri Silk:

It is also called Endi or Errandi silk. This creamy white coloured silk is less shinning than other previous mentioned silks. It is obtained from the cocoons of Philosamia ricini  which is a domesticated  silkworm and feed on mainly castor leaves. Ericulture is mainly done by the tribal people of India. In India, this culture is practiced mainly in the north-eastern states and Assam, Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa.

Philosamia ricini                                 



This silk is golden yellow in colour and mainly cultivated in Assam. It is obtained from semi-domesticated multivoltine (completed  multiple life-cycle in a year) silkworm, Antheraea assamensis. These silkworms feed on the aromatic leaves of Som and Soalu plants and are reared on trees similar to that of tasar. Muga culture is specific to the state of Assam and an integral part of the tradition and culture of that state. The muga silk, an high value product is used in products like sarees, mekhalas, chaddars, etc.

Antheraea assamensis                          

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Gitasree Saha

Gitasree has done her M.Sc. in Zoology from Vidyasagar University with Ecology as the special paper. She had also got a Bachelor in Education (B.Ed) degree from University of Calcutta. At present she is working as a teacher in the De Paul School at Kolkata affiliated under Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE).

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