India is blessed with a rich variety of natural fibres reflecting our composite tradition. It is home to some of the finest fabrics in the world. Among the different varieties of silks, tussar is often considered to be the queen of silks. This makes tussar silk a must have in every woman’s wardrobe.
Tussar silk is also known by its Sanskrit name “Kosa silk”. It is mainly produced in the states of Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal. Tussar silk is prized for its rich texture and natural gold color. Though traditionally worn as a saree, tussar silks are also made into other garments such as shirts, kurtas, and dupattas.
Tussar silk is obtained from silkworms that feed on the leaves of the trees Saja, Arjun and Sal. It is also known as “wild silk”. Tussar silk is obtained from silk moths of the antherea mylitta species. The moths look like mirror due to circular markings on them. When boiled, these silk moths produce naturally gold-coloured threads. The cocoons of the silk moths are single-shelled and are oval in shape. Boiling the cocoons is a crucial part of manufacturing silk as it softens the cocoon. This also makes it easier to extract the silk. If the cocoons are boiled after the larvae has left it, it is called “ahimsa silk”.
The ancient art of silk production is an inherent talent among many tribals inhabiting the eastern part of India. They are skilled in this art and are highly dedicated in delivering silks of finest quality. It takes a lot of time and hard work to produce the silks we see in the market.
The history of tussar silk can be traced back to the medieval times. Although, tussar is now produced in many parts of the country, Jharkhand is still the primary region of tussar silk production. The Kharaswa district of Jharkhand is the centre of tussar silk production involving thousands of skilled tribal weavers. The craft of sericulture has been passed down through several generations in these tribes.
Jharkhand alone accounts for approximately 40% of the tussar silk produced in India. The weaving skills of the tribal workforce have made sericulture the most viable source of income in the state. This makes Jharkhand the treasure island of knowledge and technique that is typical to the style of weaving in this state.
Tussar silk stands out in the field of Indian fabric and threads. The unique characteristics of tussar silk add to its charm and elegance.
It has a rich and coarse texture
It gives a cool comfort feeling
It imparts dual shade to the saree
It is light and easy to wear
Tussar silk needs to be maintained in order to keep its charm intact. Dry cleaning the tussar silk is the best way to take care of this rich fabric. In case you are cleaning the tussar saree at home, do not wring the excess water from the saree. Remember to dry the saree in shade as drying out in the sun may cause the color to fade. It should never be washed with chemical bleach. Using cold water and mild detergent to will ensure the shine and longevity of the magnificent tussar silks.