How to Identify and Maintain Tussar Silk Sarees?
Silk Sarees are an emblem of elegance that is beloved by many and a great cultural attire. There are almost 26 varieties of silk sarees weaved in the states of India. Tussar Silk saree is one of a kind for its unique texture and irregular weave pattern. The beauty of Tussar Silk is unparalleled, with its natural colour, texture and fabric quality.
In this blog, we'll learn how Tussar Silk is collected, processed and woven into an exceptionally beautiful saree. And how to identify a pure Tussar Silk saree and tips on maintaining the best.
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What is Tussar Silk?
Tussar Silk also known as kosa or wild silk is a luminous thread interwoven with rich history and cultural significance. Tussar silk is a treasure trove of natural allure from India's eastern forests. Tussar silk is made from the cocoons of the wild silkworm called Antheraea moth that usually feeds on oak, Jamun, Asan and Arjun trees.
The process of making Tussar silk is time-consuming and requires great skill. A legacy of elegance and finesse passed down through generations by exemplary Tussar silk weavers.
Tussar silk is strong yet lightweight and boasts a golden sheen look. In addition to being known for their subtle, beautiful colours, Tussar silk fabrics are less expensive than other silk varieties. Tussar silk sarees are one of the most comfortable and easy-drape fabrics.
Take a look at our exquisite silk sarees from Tulsi Silks for a timeless and elegant look.
How to Identify Tussar Silk Saree?
For better identification, we must first learn some of the distinct characteristics of Tussar silk.
Tussar silk fabric has a coarse texture owing to its lightweight and feathery nature. Though the fabric is known for its softness, it still has a stiff factor. Tussar silk sarees boast a comfortable feel with subtle shades of colour. You have the comfort of a cool breeze while wearing it.
Identify authentic Tussar silk saree by:
Genuine Tussar silk has a coarse and textured feel. Run your fingers across the fabric to feel the unique graininess. This texture is a result of the natural fibres and forest environment in which tussar silk is produced.
Tussar silk sarees weigh heavier than other silk sarees. It's due to the shorter Tussar silk fibre that contributes to an irregular weave pattern and the durability of the fabric. Tussar silk sarees become supple overuse compared to synthetic silks which are usually firm.
Authentic Tussar silk exhibits a natural lustre that reflects light with a warm, radiant gleam. In contrast, synthetic silk often displays an artificial and uniform silvery sheen.
True Tussar silk sarees drape elegantly and become even more pliable as time passes. Conversely, synthetic or fake Tussar silk tends to remain rigid.
5. Burn Test:
Extract a single thread from the saree (opt for an interior one to avoid damaging the garment) and hold it over a flame. Authentic Tussar silk will combust (rather than melt), leaving behind a black, crumbly residue with a distinct smell of burnt hair. Synthetic fabrics, on the other hand, will melt and give off a plastic odour.
Authentic Tussar silk sarees often have a slightly uneven or irregular border, which is a result of the handwoven process.
7. Handloom Mark:
Look for a handloom mark or label on the saree. Authentic tussar silk sarees are often handwoven, and a genuine handloom mark can indicate the saree's origin and authenticity.
History of Tussar Silk Fibre
The origins of Tussar silk date back to ancient times when the Chinese kept the art of silk production a closely guarded secret. Historical records indicate that approximately around 2000 BCE trade routes from China to various parts of the world.
In India, Tussar silk is largely produced in Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Orissa. Surprisingly, Tussar silk production dates back to 500 years ago in these regions. Throughout history, many rulers and emperors in India, including the Mughals and other regional kings, had a place for Tussar silk in their closet.
Discover the traditional clothing of South India with our blog on the history of Kanjeevaram silk sarees.
Weaving of Tussar Silk Saree
The process begins with the collection of Tussar silkworm eggs, which are carefully incubated to hatch into larvae. Within 35-40 days, larvae feeding on tree leaves are collected. Once the cocoons are fully formed and the silkworms complete their transformation into pupae, the cocoons are harvested.
To obtain silk fibres, harvested cocoons are boiled in water. Eventually, the cocoon becomes softer, making it easy to brush and stifle filament ends. The fibres are then spun into threads by reeling together. The silk threads are woven into fabric using traditional handloom or modern weaving techniques in various designs and prints. Many tribal women work in the process and it takes them three days to finish a ten-metre Tussar silk cloth.
Tussar Silk Sarees
Tussar silk sarees are renowned for their natural elegance and distinct patterns. Tussar silk sarees feature a diverse range of vibrant designs, patterns, and prints. Mostly famous are the traditional booty motifs, woven across the saree's body or pallu.
The intricate Kantha embroidery from West Bengal, adds mesmerising patterns of birds, flowers, and geometric shapes to the fabric. Some Tussar silk sarees incorporate tribal art forms like Warli paintings or Gond art, evoking a rustic and ethnic charm.
Block Prints, Geometric patterns, floral prints, zari and temple borders, influenced by ancient Indian architecture, add regal allure to the sarees.
Tips to Maintain Tussar Silk Sarees
1. Wash dark colours separately and skip chemical bleach.
2. Tussar fabric is best dry-cleaned for safety.
3. Store silk sarees in muslin bags.
4. Avoid wrapping dry-cleaned Tussar in plastic as silk needs to breathe.
5. Hand wash with cold water and mild liquid soap for delicate fabrics.
6. Never twist and force excess water and always dry in the shade to prevent fading.
7. Change saree folds often to prevent breakage.
8. Spot clean stains with mild shampoo when possible, otherwise opt for dry cleaning.
9. Air silk sarees occasionally in the shade to avoid sun damage.
10. While ironing, use a light muslin cloth to avoid excessive heat exposure. Avoid using a brush that harms delicate Tussar threads.
Learn some tips with our other blog on how to care for your silk sarees.
Hopefully, now you have learned to differentiate pure Tussar silk sarees from synthetic silk sarees. Check out our other blogs and learn the A-Z of sarees.
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