History of Silk

History of Silk

The history of silk is ancient, fascinating and thrilling. Silk is associated with nursing animal product and referred to as “The queen of fibres”. Rather than being mature within the type of hair, it’s created by insects as a handy material with that to make their webs, cocoon and ascent ropes. Nearly entire industrial silk relies on one insect – the silk worm, a caterpillar. (Binomial name: Bombyx mori)

Silk, the foremost elegant fibre, was initial discovered in China by Emperor Si-Ling-Chi. One day the Emperor was enjoying a cup of tea below a mulberry in the palace garden. Suddenly a silk worm cocoon fell down into her tea cup and she discovered that the warmth of the liquid allowed the cocoon to unravel an unbroken filament of fibre.

According to Chinese legends, silk culture dates back to the year 2640 BC, once the Emperor learned the way to rear the caterpillars and unwind the cocoons that they created. So through the complete encouragement of the Emperor, silk business became established in China. China command monopoly within the silk business for three thousand years. Then sericulture unfold to Japan via Korea and bit by bit silk production unfold westward over Asia.


Silk is that the product of the domesticated silkworm, Bombyx mori. The caterpillars are fed mulberry leaves 5 times daily. After 45 days of munching and growing the worms area unit able to be mature. They have a special spinneret that secrets one long continuous filament. That’s the silk.

Silkworm Chrysalis with Cocoon; Photo from Pinterest.

Silkworm Chrysalis with Cocoon; Photo from Pinterest.

When the silkworms spin this filament into a cocoon, the caterpillar starts its transformation. By steaming, it cleans them and kills the insect inside. If the pupas were unbroken alive, they’d degrade and break the silk. Then the cocoons area unit warp to reveal around a mile of usable filament. Filaments area unit joined to make a thread thick enough to weave into the material.


A variety of silk fiber is found considering bound factors associated with its quality and methodology of production. Some well-known varieties square measure made public below-

1. Raw silk: 

Silk fiber because it comes from the cocoon is coated with a protecting layer referred to as silk gum, ar sericin. The silk Eum is uninteresting and stiff, Silk with all of its gum is termed raw silk.

2. Tussah Silk:
Tussah Silk Fabric; Photo from Pinterest.

Tussah Silk Fabric; Photo from Pinterest.

Silk made of wild silkworms is known as Tussah silk. The natural color of this silk is typically not white, but shades of pale beige, brown and gray. It’s sometimes coarser than cultivated silk.

3. Bombyx mori Silk:

it is conjointly referred to as mulberry silk that is made by domesticated silkworm raised on a diet of mulberry leaves nearly solely softer, finer and additional lustrous than Tussah Silk. This silk produces reminder white product.

4. Reeled silk or Thrown silk:

It is a term for silk fiber that’s uncoiled from the silkworm Cocoon. it’s the foremost fine silk, the fibers square measure terribly long, shiny and of nice strength

5. Spun silk:

Silk made of broken cocoon (from that the moths have already emerged) and short fibers, feels more like cotton.

6. Weighted silk:

When yarns square measure ready for weaving, the skeins of yarn square measure stewed in an exceeding soap resolution to get rid of the natural silk gum or sericin. The silk might lose from 20-30% of its original weight as a result of boiling. As silk incorporates a nice affinity for gold salts like those of tin.

7. Pure silk:
Pure Silk Fabric; Courtesy: Photo from Pinterest

Pure Silk Fabric; Courtesy: Photo from Pinterest

If the natural gum or sericin is faraway from the silk and no more material is other to extend the weight of the fiber, l.e. silk containing no gold weight is termed pure silk. Pure silk is solely soft and possesses fine luster.


Silk is one in all the foremost pricy materials within the world rather like linen. It’s typically chosen for a spread of garments and accessories in new collections.

Silk was an expensive material back then in past too.It is extremely pricy as a result of its restricted accessibility and expensive production. It takes quite 5,000 silkworms to provide only one kilogram of silk. The farming, killing, and gather of thousands of silkworm cocoons are resource-heavy, effortful, and expensive processes. Only 168,300 loads of raw silk are made globally every year. China is that the largest producer of silk with 126,000 tons made in 2014, followed by India (23,700 tons), and Vietnam (6,800 tons).


Silk Fabric; Courtesy: Photo from Pinterest

Silk Fabric; Courtesy: Photo from Pinterest

To quote Oscar de la Renta,

“Silk does for the body what diamonds do for the hand.”

Silk is such as fabric that is fond of by all kinds of people of all kinds of ages, specially by women. It gives someone a Royal and charm looking. It’s just a perfect wardrobe for making an evening special! In spite of its delicate look, silk is comparatively strong. Its swish surface resists soil and odors well. Silk is wrinkle and tear resistant, and dries swiftly. Owing to its macromolecule structure, silk is that the most hypoallergenic of all materials.


Small rabbit sitting on comfy Silk fabric; Courtesy: Photo by Sunsetoned from Pexel.

Small rabbit sitting on comfy Silk fabric; Courtesy: Photo by Sunsetoned from Pexel.

The Chinese realised the worth of the attractive material they were manufacturing and unbroken its secret safe from the remainder of the planet for quite 30 centuries. Travelers were searched thoroughly at border crossings and anyone caught making an attempt to export eggs, cocoons or silkworms out of the country were end up dead. Thus, below the penalty of death, the mystery of sericulture remained a well-kept secret for pretty much three thousand years.


Silk Road of China; Courtesy: Photo from Pinterest

Silk Road of China; Courtesy: Photo from Pinterest

Though first reserved for Chinese royalty, silk unfolds bit by bit through the Chinese culture. From then, silken clothes began to achieve regions throughout Asia. Silk speedily became a preferred luxury material within the several areas accessible to Chinese merchants, due to its texture and luster. Demand for this exotic material eventually created the profitable trade route currently referred to as the trade route, taking silk westward and delivery gold, silver and wool to the eastward. The Silk Road is so named because it was the trading route from China to Rome, wherever silk material was one amongst the key trade things.
Sometimes silk was considered more precious than gold! So Clearly, Silk Road played a crucial role in its global trade and introduction to the world outside of China.


Among the silk-producing areas, Japan has always ranked highest in production of fine silks. Satisfactory types are made in-Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, France, Greece, Iran, Thailand, Turkey, Spain and Syria.


Satin Silk; Courtesy: Photo from pinterest. Fashionnovation

Satin Silk; Courtesy: Photo from pinterest

Chiffon, Chinnon, Crepe, Dupion, Duchess, Organza, Taffeta, Georgette, Satin, Matka, Brocade etc.


A modern hijabi girl with beautiful silk gawn; Courtesy: Photo from Pinterest

A modern hijabi girl with beautiful silk gawn; Courtesy: Photo from Pinterest

Examples of shopper attire things made of silk embody scarfs, shirts, blouses, sleep mask and evening clothes. Thanks to its light-weight and soft attributes, silk is additionally a favourite material for nightclothes and undergarment for men. Within the home, silk may well be wont to create ornamental pillows, curtains, or wall hangings.


Simply bit your silk and acquire an honest sorrow the smoothness of it. Real silk is totally swish to the bit, with a soft and virtually waxy feeling. Further thereto, if you scrunch it up a touch in your hand, you ought to hear a crunching noise – that sound should tell you that it’s the important deal.

For further peace of mind, rub the silk between your fingers for a touch whereas. Real silk heats up and becomes deal the bit – if it doesn’t amendment in temperature, it’s a pretend.


Bangladesh eventually transmitted the art of sericulture due to its proximity to India and China as It’s a pride similar to Muslin and Jamdani. Italians particularly favoured this sort of silk throughout the 13th Century and referred to as it the ‘Ganges Silk’.
By the 1930s, Chinese and Japanese silk started replacing Bengal silk even in Bengal itself because of the epidemic of silkworm diseases and technological stagnation. In the early 20th century, Bengal silk was removed from South Asian markets, especially by Kashmir and Mysore silk.

A Bengali Woman in Silk Shari; Courtesy: Photo from Pinterest.

A Bengali Woman in Silk Shari; Courtesy: Photo from Pinterest.

But then 1971, the govt. developed an additional systematic policy towards silk. In 1977, the Bangladesh sericulture board was created to coordinate activities within the silk sector. Now as a gift situation sericulture in Bangladesh is ruled by Bangladesh Silk Board (BSB), Asian nation Silk Foundation (BSF) and a few NGO’s, chiefly BRAC.

Though Bangladesh features a structure to guide the sericulture comes however it’s not been ready to work as expeditiously because it was required. As a result the mulberry plantation has bated to throughout the last decade. BSB is currently operating about extension and production programs and that they have gotten government support to accomplish their programs. However there’s lack of hardship and potency to implement the programs.


1. Mulberry Silk.
2. Eri (Endi Silk).
3. Tassar Silk.


Arrangement of Glass Pitcher on Silk garment; Courtesy: Photo by Sunsetoned from Pexels.

Arrangement of Glass Pitcher on Silk garment; Courtesy: Photo by Sunsetoned from Pexels.

The terrible notion of silk produces an expensive and comfy image in most people’s minds. this can be owing to the fiber’s fantastic properties.
– The natural supermolecule structure makes it a naturally hypoallergenic textile.
– Silk has temperature control properties that makes it ideal for clothes in interchangeable climates. It is a breathable material that’s strong and resists odors. It is straightforward to figure with and might be plain-woven, knit or spun just.
– Silk simply absorbs dyes and may be a fantastic fashion and interiors alternative for its skillfulness and drape.
– Silks is bleached with low-impact and natural dyes.
– It is perishable and might be recycled.
– Handloom silks area unit made exploitation abundant less energy.

Silk has attracted people for millennia with its unique qualities of lightness and strength, durability, luster and brilliance. A silk strand has a greater tensile strength than steel, yet no other material drapes more luxuriously or flatters the body more. So, it makes our responsibility to be more productive in this field.


Mentor : A.S.M. Shahidullah (TFD 44; ID: 2018-1-6-013)

Leader : Jeba Samia (TFD 45; ID- 2019-1-6-035)

Executive : Rabeya Begum Mishu (TFD 46; ID-2020-1-6-34)



Image References:

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History of Silk

Muslin: History of Pride and Sorrow

Muslin is a word that has enchanted the world for the 17th and 18th century for its properties as well as craftsmanship. A pride of Bengal and a worthy opponent of royal clothes all over the world has a rich history. Let us explore today the breathtaking history and the extinction of the world’s finest cloth.

Origin of The Word “Muslin”

The origin of the word Muslin is unclear. Some say the word muslin comes from Mosul, an ancient trading center in Iraq. Again, some think that the word muslin is associated with Musalipattam, the one-time headquarters of a European trading company in southern India.

This word isn’t originated from Persian, Bangla or Sanskrit. Probably the clothes that the Europeans imported from Mosul and the clothes that were brought from other countries of the East through Mosul were called muslin. Then the finest cloth made in Dhaka was called muslin or should say Dhakai Muslin.

Some should say that It’s unclear who gave the name again some would say that it was definitely the Europeans who gave this name. Whoever gave the name, they may be didn’t think that one day this cloth will uphold a whole sub-continent or will be written with the history of pride and agony.

Royal “Muslin” History

When we talk about muslin, Mughal Empire’s name always popped out of history. While in the time of Mughal period the muslin clothing received royal patronage and it ensured another crucial quality certification from the people. Also, the announcement of Dhaka as the capital of Muslin made the trading of muslin to spread far from China to the Middle Eastern Country. The quality, the semitransparent look, the finest touch of craftsmanship attracted people from all over the world. Muslin was widely used to made gown or accessories in European countries.

The tradition of the textile industry in Bengal is quite ancient. At one time Bengal’s cotton cloth was exported to Rome and China. It is mentioned in Ptolemy’s Geography, Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, and in the descriptions of ancient Chinese travellers.

In 1851, Dhaka muslin became the dominant language in a huge exhibition in London and attracted a large number of visitors. British newspapers and magazines praised the excellence and delicacy of Dhaka muslin cloth.

A rich woman is wearing a muslin dress which expresses elegance and royalty. Muslin history: Fashionnovation

Picture: Muslin as Royalty

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Mughal Bengal emerged as the foremost muslin exporter in the world, with Mughal Dhaka as the capital of the worldwide muslin trade.

Dhakai “Muslin”

The special environment of Dhaka, specially the bank of the river Brahmaputra was perfect to grow the “Phuti” Cotton. A cotton plant from which the cotton fiber was collected to make Dhakai Muslin. Quality of soil, level of moisture and other environmental factors also contributed to the growth of legendary cotton plant.

The threads that were produced from this cotton plant are both soft and strong. Craftsman weaved them by hand into the amazingly fine and beautiful muslin fabrics. Special skills were evolved over the ages and then passed down through the generations. These were used in the spinning and weaving of the amazing muslin fabric.

A picture of Dhakai Muslin.

Dhakai Muslin.

As we are talking about that time when the total Indian subcontinent was under the rule of royalty, The maslin or “Malmal” was not only a type of cloth but it was produced with different count and different fineness. Some type of Muslins are:

  • Malbus Khas Used in Mughal royal family. 1 yard in length 10 yards in width. Weight lifting.
  • Malmal Khas The new muslin that was made for the kings after the Malbus Khas was discontinued in the 18th century.
  • Sarkar-i-Ala Nawab – Subedar used to use it. 1 yard in length 10 yards in width. Weight lifting 10.
  • Ab-e-Rowan was clear as clear water
  • Jhuna The women of the Mughal harem used to wear these clothes. It was also used by women of aristocratic families. The dancers used to dance while wearing clothes made from it.
  • Shabnam so fine that if it was dried on the grass in the morning, it could not be distinguished from dew.
  • Badan Khas used to enhance the beauty of the body of the wearer. Was particularly comfortable. Its weaving would not have been denser.

As mentioned before, muslin is a semi-transparent fabric, sometimes it was considered with fog for its dense look.

History of Agony

Muslin suffered a great loss when people were turning their attention to the machine-made cheap clothing. But not only one cause made the cloth to extinct from the world. So what were the agonies? Why did it extinct?

Cheap “industrial Cloth” vs Royal “Muslin”

During British colonial rule, the muslin industry was made down by various colonial policies, which supported imports of industrially manufactured textiles from Britain. These clothes were cheaper than the Muslin.

With the establishment of the East India Company’s monopoly over the trade of Bengal after the “Battle of Palashi, 1757”, the trade of other European companies and traders belonging to other nationals practically came to a stop.

Pay Tax!

A heavy duty of 75 percent was imposed on the export of cotton from Bengal which ultimately leads to the decline of muslin trade in Bengal because the traders suffered from loss.

Payment for Muslin with blood

Those families who used to made Muslin had to face the cruelty of the government because of the master craftsmanship. Their thumbs were cut off so that they couldn’t pass down the skill to other generation. But some says that the hands of the weavers were not British, but they cut off their own fingers so that the work of weaving would no longer have to be done.
Though the second one don’t have any historical mention but the first one was mentioned by William Bolts.

Thus the history was written and the muslin was extinct and the finest cloth that Bengal could produce was jamdani.

But after a lot of effort, the world again felt the softness of muslin with the revival of Muslin with the help of the Government and some people who wholeheartedly tried to revive the golden past, the glory, The Muslin.

Let’s hear that some other day! Till then stay safe and keep others safe around you!

By Team Bucolic Bohemian,

Umme Memory Mim
Textile Fashion and Design (2018-1-6-012)

Sabiha Moon Taha
Textile Fashion and Design (2019-1-6-006)

Md. Mahmud Hosen
Fabric Engineering (2020-1-2-006)


  1. https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FMuslin&psig=AOvVaw3TcVw-GCwyrMOkvSKulydk&ust=1619869895794000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAIQjRxqFwoTCJivreXzpfACFQAAAAAdAAAAABAD
  2. https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FCotton-Muslin-Fabric-Optic-White%2Fdp%2FB079VQZMTT&psig=AOvVaw3TcVw-GCwyrMOkvSKulydk&ust=1619869895794000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAIQjRxqFwoTCJivreXzpfACFQAAAAAdAAAAABAp

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To know a bit about khadi, a traditional fabric of Bangladesh, you can go here!

History of Silk

You can also read our another article written on the history of pattern and motif!