Nearly 80 per cent of the silk threads that weavers use across the country come from China.

印度纺织工人使用的丝线中,近80% 来自中国。

At a time when Chinese goods are frowned upon and slogans of ‘down with China’ fill media air, there’s one industry that will simply come to its knees without its primary raw material from China – India’s silk weaving industry.Without Chinese silk threads, not only will the entire industry come to a halt, but the heritage we have of woven silks, be it in Benares or elsewhere in the country will be lost,” says Varanasi-based master weaver Maqbool Hussain.


Nearly 80 per cent of the silk threads that weavers use across the country come from China. Of the rest, 10 per cent comes from Karnataka, and the rest from Bihar and Assam. In India, there are primarily four types of silk thread sources – domestic, which include mulberry and eri, and wild that includes tussar and muga. “There have been alternatives from Vietnam and Korea, but their scales of production don’t match our demand,” says Hussain.

全国纺织工人使用的丝线中,近80% 来自中国。10% 来自卡纳塔克邦,其余来自比哈尔邦和阿萨姆邦。在印度,主要有四种类型丝线来源-家养的蚕丝,其中包括桑蚕丝和eri,野生蚕丝,包括柞蚕丝和穆加丝。“已经有了越南和韩国替代品,但它们的生产规模还不能满足我们的需求。”侯赛因说。

The difference in quality between Chinese threads and threads from Karnataka is in the finish and thickness. Reeling is how the raw silk filaments are drawn out from the cocoon. And the machines in India do not give the smoothness or the shine that Chinese threads have. This leads to thicker threads which can be used on hand looms, but not on the warp in powerloom because of the speed with which the yarn is woven — and the chances of the breaking are greater.


“Our sericulture predates even China’s and our threads from Karnataka have better strength than Chinese silk threads. However, our handicap is in the reeling and finishing,” says Hussain.Given that many weavers in Benares have shifted to the powerloom, it’s not unusual for container loads of Chinese silk threads to arrive at local markets.


“The cost of Chinese silk threads is almost the same as that from Karnataka, which is anywhere between Rs 3,500 to Rs 5,000 per kg. However, with locally-made threads there is 25 per cent wastage after washing the threads,” says Govardhana.Silk threads are always washed to get rid of the cocoon coating, while Chinese threads do not require any washing. A Benarasi sari requires approximately 800 g silk threads for its weave, while an Ikkat sari needs a kilogramme.

“中国丝线的成本几乎与卡纳塔克邦相当,每公斤3500至5000卢比。然而,对于本地生产的丝线,在清洗后会有25% 的浪费。”。丝线经常水洗以去除茧衣,而中国的丝线则不需要任何水洗。一条瓦拉纳西沙丽需要大约800克丝线来织就,而一条来做沙丽需要一公斤丝线。