What is Sericulture?
Sericulture is the process of cultivating silkworms and extracting silk from them. The caterpillars of the domestic silkmoth (also called ‘Bombyx mori’) are the most commonly used silkworm species in sericulture. Other types of silkworms (such as Eri, Muga, and Tasar) are also cultivated for the production of ‘wild silks’. An image detailing the different types of silkworms is provided below.
Sericulture is a very important domestic industry in many countries. India and China are the world’s leading producers of silk. The silk output of these two countries combined accounts for over 60% of the global production.
What is Silk Made up of?
Silk is a fiber made up two different proteins – sericin and fibroin. Approximately 80% of silk fiber is made up of fibroin, which is concentrated at the core. This core is surrounded by a layer of sericin (which makes up the remaining 20% of silk).
The presence of pigments (such as xanthophyll) in the sericin layer of the fiber imparts color to the silk. Each type of silk has a distinct color, as tabulated below.
|Type of Silk||Color|
What is the Process Followed in Sericulture?
For the production of mulberry silk, the sericulture process follows three primary steps.
- Moriculture – the cultivation of mulberry leaves.
- Silkworm rearing – promoting the growth of the silkworm.
- Silk reeling – the extraction of silk filaments from the silkworm cocoons
Finally, the silk filaments are woven together to form a thread. These threads are often plied together to form a yarn.