What Is Mulberry Silk? Memorable Facts For You To 'Mull' Over | Kidadl

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What Is Mulberry Silk? Memorable Facts For You To 'Mull' Over

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Mulberry silk is known for its smoothness and strength.

Mulberry silk originated in China, where the secret of producing this textile remained a mystery for centuries. Favored by nobles and the rich, this coveted silk is one of the most expensive fabrics in the world.

Pure silk is made from insect larvae and they weave a cocoon. Many other moths also weave such cocoons. Muga silk is the purest type of silk. Another pure quality type of silk is Eri silk. Mulberry silk is called so as its named Fafter the leaves of the mulberry tree, which are fed to a species of moth called Bombyx mori, whose cocoons are processed to make the silk. The process developed in ancient China was the first to contact silk dating back to more than 8,000 years! After China, India is the largest producer of the finest quality silk in the world. Nowadays, silk is widely used not just for clothing and garments, but for making smoother, silk pillowcases, silk sheets, bedding sheets, and covers, and even hair ties around the world. The smooth, light air and breathable fabric sit on the skin elegantly. Silk bedding is the slippier, sleek material that makes for a smooth surface for your head. Silk bedding, silk pillowcase, and silk covers are known to be naturally hypoallergenic, meaning that it repels bacteria and allergens, giving you a comfortable and healthy sleep every night. Sleeping on a silk pillowcase has its own advantages. It is known to prevent wrinkles, fine lines, and helps in improving skin and hair hydration. This article will give you the answer about why do they call it mulberry silk, what the difference between normal silk and mulberry silk is, how it is produced, its benefits, and its impact on silkworms. Afterward, you might also want to know where does silk come from and how is paper made.

What is the difference between silk and mulberry silk?

The main point of difference between silk and mulberry silk is the way in which it is produced. The fibroids of the silk made from bombyx Mori moth are long and shiny, compared to other types of silk-like wild silk or charmeuse silk.

One of the key differences is that during the process of silk making, the moths are fed with only mulberry leaves and they are cultivated under a controlled environment that compliments the production of the finest, highest quality silk. Because of the long individual fiber, unlike other silks, the texture of mulberry silk is the finest and most refined than any other silk.

Sometimes, we may get confused as to whether the sheets at a shop are made from silk or satin, as both the fabrics feel and look similar, if not the same. However, as much as satin may look similar to silk, it is a completely man-made fabric that has its own unique weaving patterns even if the texture and feel may seem similar to silk.

Fabrics are generally divided on the basis of the fiber used for their production and whether they’re woven or knitted. Fabrics like chiffon, denim, and cotton are made from woven thread from materials like yarn and cotton, while lace is made from knitted yarn. Fabrics like leather are made from animal products like their hide and skin. Apart from that, there are fabrics like linen and bamboo silk, which are made from processing plants.

Is mulberry silk expensive?

It is not exactly light on the pocket, but there is a lot that goes into making it and the end product is this shimmering, shining pure liquid mulberry silk which is worth the buy. The process used for producing the finest quality ‘queen of fabrics’ does take a lot of time and expense. Carefully creating perfect conditions for the moths to breed, and having fed a solitary diet of mulberry leaves and giving them months before the threads can be woven takes patience. Mulberry leaves are simple, often lobed, and ridged. The quality or specialty which is exclusive to the mulberry silk is its fine long thread, which is woven only by the bombyx mori moths. These strands are extremely strong and durable and have a very low density. Due to its lower density, the silks do not need to be aired out and prevent bacteria and allergies from getting to your skin. Likewise, these strands are actually the longest silk thread of all, which is an extremely important factor when the mulberry silk is being made.

The light and breathable fabric make for luxurious clothing, ranging from dress shirts, blouses, lingerie, ties, robes, etc. Due to its low conductivity, silk keeps the skin cool during summer compared to any other materials like polyester.

Moreover, silk is highly used in manufacturing silk beddings and silk sheets. The silkworm builds a cocoon for itself which is ideal for long-term hibernation, like protection from heat or cold, normal temperature, and overall perfect conditions for resting. It is considered a luxury to sleep on silk sheets. This is the quality which the silk covers and beddings and silk pillowcase bring out for us to enjoy optimum level sleep. Mulberry silk is highly durable, luxurious on the skin and hair. Apart from that, mulberry silk is largely used in the medical field to create non-absorbable surgical sutures by separating the outer sericin layer in silk. A range of clothing using this process has been introduced for patients suffering from eczema and many other skin and hair conditions. Along with mulberry silk, its substitute polyester charmeuse is also being used widely these days.

Mulberry has always been regarded as one of the finest types of silks.

How do we produce mulberry silk?

India and China practice sericulture, cultivating silkworms to produce silk on a large scale. The Bombyx mori moths are harvested to lay their eggs. One moth may lay up to 500 eggs at a time. These eggs are hatched under controlled conditions, by maintaining a temperature of 65 F (18.3 C). It is slowly raised to 75 F (23.8 C) over time to hatch the eggs.

When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars are fed an exclusive diet of mulberry leaves. The result of having a single diet is the strong, shiny, beautiful white silk thread. The feeding goes on for about a month, after which the metamorphosis begins. The silkworm starts weaving itself into a cocoon and that goes on for a few days. Within two to three days, a caterpillar can spin up to 1 mi (1.6 km) of strands, which are held together by a protective agent called sericin, which is water-soluble. When the process of weaving is over, the cocoon is put into boiling water to separate sericin which unwinds the long silk fiber. Multiple fibers are woven together to form a single long silk thread, which can further be made into fabric.

Are silkworms harmed in the making of silk?

As it is quite obvious from the silk-making process above, moths and silkworms are subjected to a lot of unfair treatment during the process. Usually, after the moths have delivered the eggs, they’re killed off so as to prevent over breeding. Likewise, boiling the silkworms isn’t really pleasant for them and they’re killed off in the process. Almost 15,000 silkworms are boiled for a 3 ft (1 m) piece of fabric.

Activism against the production of silk has not gained much mass attention, as their existence is dismissed as ‘just another worm.' Apart from that, silk is also labeled as an arbitrary luxury, as nobody would lose anything apart from luxury if they were to give up on silk. Moreover, apart from the silkworms, many children as small as the age of five are also abused in the silk industry, as they are forced to work under horrible conditions, even forced to remove the cocoons from boiling water with their bare hands.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives To Silk

The best option to save the silkworms from their ill fate would be to completely stay away from silk. Refrain from buying new silk if you already own some. There is one variety of silk called 'peace' or ‘ahimsa silk’ produced in India, where instead of boiling the moths in their cocoon, the silkworms are left to complete their life cycles and the silk is extracted in safer ways. Worms, however small and unyielding, are an important part of the environment and if treated cruelly can impact not just animals, but also us.

Moreover, there are many options in the shop that will provide you with silk-like comfort, especially if you get a silk pillowcase for sleeping. Technology and advancement have helped us create many alternatives like faux silk, made from bamboo or other similar materials which do not involve cruelty towards any animals. Apart from that, we get many expensive fabrics in the market like polyester, rayon, etc. which are completely cruelty-free. Satin, which is a manmade fabric, can be the best alternative for silk because it has a similar feel and texture.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for what is mulberry silk then why not take a look at what are packing peanuts made of, or things that are purple.

Written By
Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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