Of all the gifts that nature has endowed upon human beings, silk is possibly the most fascinating. Strictly speaking, of course, it’s not a gift that nature could have begotten without having man for a sire. So human beings might as well take pride in the procreation of something as astounding as silk.
Call it ‘paat’(as we do here in Eastern India) or ‘pattu’ (down South) or the more common, ‘resham’, silk is a word that instantly conjures images of luscious lavishness. To make things a little more mystical, here’s a folklore that I picked up a while ago:
Silk is a natural protein fibre which arguably was first discovered in ancient China. The one who achieved this feat was, naturally, titled the Goddess of Silk. It is said that the wife of the mythical Yellow Emperor of China, named Hsi Ling Shi, aka Leizu, was extremely fond of her garden which she took regular strolls in. But one day she discovered some strange disease in her plants that led to the leaves developing holes. After probing around for a while, she realized the ‘disease’ was actually a bunch of insects eating away at the plants, which happened to be mulberries. Yet another day, as she sat under a tree with a cup of steaming tea for company, one of the insects accidentally fell into the cup, and something strange happened. The hard exterior of the insect softened, and out came a strand so silky, that the queen was tempted to fill her garden with more mulberry trees for the worms to feed on. Soon enough, she was making enough silk strands to be woven into fine glossy fabrics that took the world by storm.
For years since, silk has been as important a symbol of status as gold and diamonds.
India however, is a strong contender to China, what with researchers coming up with evidence of sericulture, or silk production, here dating back to the Indus Valley Civilization. India also happens to be the second largest producer of the same, after China, and the largest consumer. Here, the fabric has attained almost a ritualistic status. Marriages are never considered auspicious without a Kancheepuram or a Banarasi. Such is the love that people are willing to bargain comfort in the humid climatic conditions for a drape of silk. And when I use the word people, it snugly includes men too, for men have had a penchant for silken weaves for as long as the women. Ancient royalties and modern time metrosexuals alike.
Ideating and creating under the banner of Coloroso, I have proven quite well to have inherited from our ancestors. For my love for silks never ceases to grow. Every time I hold a freshly woven Chanderi or a Banarasi that the hand loom turns out, it sparks in me thoughts of hundreds of silk strands procured from hundreds of silk worms spinning incessantly to give birth to who knows what folklore for the future.