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Mysore silk saree brocade done with pure gold threads

Tipu Sultan was a man who patronized many things in this lifetime, and silk is one of them. He ordered 32 power looms from Switzerland and set up the largest silk manufacturing unit in India. Based in Mysore, Karnataka, Mysore silk manufacturers produce nearly 9,000 metric tons of silk, which come to around 45% of India's mulberry silk production.

Mysore silk sarees are unique for their smooth fabric. They are woven from the silk of a single cocoon, and are dyed in bold colors. The extracted silk yarn is checked for quality, soaked, and then stamped for its purity. It is one of the most expensive and thriving indigenous arts in South India.

The Maharaja of Mysore is also a great patron of the Mysore silks. In 1912, he was the first one to set up a 17-acre factory which is under the Government of Karnataka today. Most of the silk is produced in the capital, Bengaluru, and woven into sarees in Mysore. Karnataka Silk board is a famous location that leads to Bangalore's industrial sector.

The distinguishing features of Mysore silks are its rather plain weave. The fabric is not woven into patterns or designs like other south Indian weaves. The saree is left plain and a small border adorns its ends. This border has a pure silk and gold zari, which contains large amounts of silver (65%) and 0.65% grams of pure gold thread. The motifs in the border are delicate designs that are native to Karnataka's heritage.

A particular species of mulberry is used to cultivate the silkworms that produce Mysore silk Image source: wikimedia commonswikimedia

The authenticity of a Mysore silk saree lies in its touch. No other silk is as smooth as Mysore silks because the silk yarn undergoes a special degumming process that adds a sheen to it. Mysore silk sarees come with a unique tag at the end of the fabric which contains the details of manufacture and a certificate of purity. If this tag is preserved, the saree can be restored at any point in case of wear and tear.

Mysore silk sarees do not lose their shine easily. They look as good as new even after years of use. When this silk is rubbed, it produces a warmth that no other silk does. It keeps the wearer cool in the summer and warm in the winter, adapting well to the body temperature.

Keywords: Mysore silks, Karnataka heritage, Tipu Sultan, Maharaja of Mysore, Mulberry Silk, Sericulture



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