Ahimsa Silk : Non violent and Cruelty free Silk

When I decided to launch my own label, I was very clear that I wanted to use only natural and organic raw materials. I planned to launch with a silk line and made my first five designs in lightweight silk georgette.

I was positioning AKIRA MING as a sustainable, ethical, natural and eco friendly brand and so imagine my disappointment and shock when I came across the fact on silk production that doesn't make it ‘eco- friendly’! Millions of silkworms are boiled during mass production of silk. Not only is it cruel, it also upsets the ecological balance.

So I was back to square one with my new label. I cancelled further production of the silk pieces and went back to research other options that I could switch my formal line to.

I was delighted to discover Ahimsa silk and even happier to discover that it was developed by an Indian who held the patent for developing the process.

Ahimsa silk, also known as peace silk, is a type of silk that is purported to be made in a fashion that is much more humane to the creatures creating the silk than many traditional methodologies. Ahimsa is a word that derives from the Sanskrit language and translates as non-violence. This ideal is a key component of a larger way of living that is taken up by many people in the Indian subcontinent, most famously Mahatma Gandhi. A vast majority of Ahimsa silk is made from the cocoon of the Bombyx mori moth whose young feed on the leaves of the mulberry tree.

Kusuma Rajaiah - The man behind Ahimsa Silk

Mr. Kusuma Rajaiah, a government officer from the state of Andhra Pradesh in India, applied theories based on the Ahimsa ideology to the manufacture of silk, & discovered a more humane way of extracting the silk instead of killing the very creatures that created it. Traditional silk manufacturing methods involve boiling the cocoons of the silkworm and then sorting out the threads to be used later in production. Mr. Rajaiah’s method involves a gentler approach, specifically letting the worms hatch and then using the cocoons once vacant. He started deploying this process in 1990 and has since been supported by a larger community of people interested in the welfare and rights of animals and non-humans.

I reached out to Mr. Rajaiah immediately and found him to be an extremely humble and down to earth gentleman. He patiently explained to me about his entire process of developing the yarn and he also informed me that he owns the patent for the technology. This gave me confidence that I would be able to use genuine cruelty free silk. Also, the fact that the fabric is woven on handlooms makes it further eco- friendly, with very low carbon impact on the environment.

I have met Mr. Rajaiah in person a couple of times since then, and he was kind enough to visit my studio during his trips to Gurgaon as well. He is as sweet and humble in person as he was on the phone the first time I spoke to him.

From Fibre to Fabric

The process of creating silk humanely begins in one of two ways: either the pupa is allowed to hatch and the leftover cocoon is then used to create silk, or the cocoon may be cut open, achieving much the same result but often saving the resultant material from contamination by urine from the hatching moth.
Each cocoon is checked individually to ensure that the moth has escaped before the silk thread is spun.
Spinning takes around two months and weaving takes another month.
Ahimsa silk is promoted as having the popular properties of regular silk. Even though it is slightly less lustrous, it is even softer to the touch.
* image source: Google images
Ahimsa silk is a pure, cruelty free, vegan and natural fabric options for people who have chosen to adopt a vegan lifestyle.

You can visit our catalog section in the main website to search for hand block printed ahimsa silk styles that we offer.
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  • Manpreet Kaur

    Amazing information about Ahimsa silk. Good luck for your venture . I am sure with your passion and dedication you will go a long way. Thanks for sharing this information.

  • Rahul Trivedi

    very nicely written..keep up the good work.

    I have also written a research paper on a comparison beetween cotton fiber and polyester whos better for mother earth? This paper was published in Indian Textile jounal long back..unfortunately i couldnt do more on this research however i love to read about sustainable initiatives in Textile.industry…good luck for your new venture.

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