Tussar silk saris are considered auspicious for marriages, religious ceremonies and other important functions. Tussar silk is a special variety of silk, as the cocoons are raised on Arjun and Sal trees. Depending upon the climatic conditions of the area the worm is reared and the leaf on which the Tussar worm feeds, the variety of Tussar differs. The insects mostly live in the wild in the forest, eating off the trees they live on. Their cocoon is single-shelled and oval.
Tussar Silk is a type of wild silk and is less expensive than cultivated silk. Some Tussar silk today is made is called non-violent silk, or Ahimsa Silk, which is extracted from the cocoon after the silkworm larva has left it. In conventional sericulture, the cocoons are boiled with the larvae still inside. However, as far as the technique of silk manufacture is concerned, boiling is important as it softens the cocoon making the extraction of silk easier. After they have been boiled (or treated with a softening enzyme) the yarn is reeled.
Colours and motifs
Also known as Kosa Silk is valued for its purity and texture. They come in a range of colours, but most popular are in shades of gold-pale, dark, honey, tawny, beige, creamy, etc. Earlier only natural dyes were used which included yellow from the palaas flame of the forest, the Kusum Flower, the rich red pollen dust of the Rora Flower and the deep rose red from Lac. But with time the range of colour and motifs have increased dramatically.
This original rich gold shade Tussar is dyed with colours of a very special hue and depth.
In the vernacular, the myriad tints of silk sound as exotic as the Tussar sari itself Dhaniya (light green), Mas (deep blue), Kariya (black), Anchi (deep purple), Jamalla (purple), Darra (deep rose red), Katha (maroon), Took Lal (bright red), Narangi (orange), Piura (yellow), Rani (deep Indian pink), Malti (mauve pink), Phiroza (turquoise), etc.
The motifs and the patterns continuously refer to nature and daily life and they are carefully chosen to enhance the beauty of gorgeous Tussar silk sari. Like shades the motifs and the patterns also continuously refer to nature and daily life Teen, Phulia, Chicholi Phool, Crown Phool, Rui Phool, Karan Phool, Chitpat, Kangoora, Sankari, Janjeer, Mandir, Ghungroo, Motim Chowk Choor, Singhaulia, Bhaonrai, Chatai, Karvat, Chowkda, etc., that are carefully chosen to enhance the beauty of gorgeous natural silk.
Spells the magic
Distinguished amongst the silks for flawless quality and soothing texture Tussar Silk is also called Kosa Silk. For hundreds of years, Tussar has been valued for its texture and feel. A fabric that’s alive in every strand. Distinguished amongst the silks for flawless quality and soothing structure, it spells a magic that is timeless.
Produced mainly in the Indian state, Jharkhand, Tussar is valued for its texture and natural gold colour, which is unusually rich and deep.
Traditionally, Tussar was dyed only with natural dyes – but with time, the range of colour and motifs has increased dramatically, thanks to the introduction of chemical dyes.The Tussar saris radiate a natural brilliance due to the fiber used. In some Tussar silk saris, brocade work is done with Zari to give them an ornate look. In some, the pallus and borders of the sari is woven with thread, coloured in the Ikat style to give a designer touch.
The look of the Tussar Sari, plain or coloured is so rich that it is a favourite choice for formal occasions. Apart from the sari itself, Tussar Silk is also used to make other dresses such as salwar-kameez, lehengas, dupattas, jackets, shirts and achkans. It lends itself beautifully to printing and painting and is being increasingly used innovatively in designer boutique.
Although there are many varieties of Tussar, few common examples are ‘Gheecha’, ‘Matka’ and ‘Desi’. Two types of Tussar sari are woven today like plain Tussar and mixed Tussar -cotton. Plain Tussar saris made from reeled (not spun) threads are popular throughout India.
Bihar is also known for the Tussar silk. It has been surveyed that five types of Tussar silk fabric is woven there and they were all Tussar-cotton mixes, usually with a Tussar warp and mixed Tussar-cotton weft, and four types were exported out of state.
Tussar silk produced in Madhya Pradesh, is known by its Sanskrit name ‘kosa’. Raigarh and Champa are important centres for Tussar silk saris and fabrics, where the weaving is done by the Devangan community. The Kostha weavers of Chhattisgarh make saris called ‘Mailooga’ and ‘Gamchha’. These sarees have simple designs and are worn by the Gond, Baiga and Kanwar tribals. For the Muria, Maria, Dhruva and Gadba tribals, the local weavers weave special dresses for folk dance performances namely Dhruva-Bandhipata and Tual. Special weaving is done using coloured threads (red and brown) of the ‘Aal’ (madder) tree roots.
Some wash-care tips
- Dry cleaning is the safest option for Tussar.
- Remember, do not let your dry cleaned Tussar (or any silk for that matter) stay wrapped in plastic too long. Silks need to breathe.
- In case you want to hand wash your Tussar fabric, remember to use cold water and a mild liquid soap (preferably which is meant for delicate clothes).
- Do not wring excess water out. Let the fabric dry in shade. Bright sun may cause the fabric to fade.
- Wash dark colours separately and remember never to use chemical bleaches on your silks.