Readymade Eri Lap Sheet (RELS), developed by Dr K Chaoba Singh, Scientist at Regional Tasar Research Station, Mantripukhri in Imphal is a simplified technology designed to enhance the production of eri lap sheets in a simple way, says a fibre2fashion report.
Elaborating on the RELS technology, Singh says: "The RELS technology allows the eri culture artisans to create a specific material of flossy silk filler of quilts. For, this substantially reduces the problem of decadence in eri culture".
Further explaining the RELS process, Singh said: "When the silkworms start secretion of silk through their spinnerets, they are carefully spread over the ground or a smooth surface bounded by bamboo strips-wooden-iron pieces or inside a frame of any material of desired size. What is more, the silkworms are allowed to vomit their silk contents into a smooth with uniform thickness strong silk stuff. Then the shortened silkworms called pre-pupae after the formation of the silk stuff remain idly above the smooth surface. Later, these pre-pupae form pupae by casting the pre-pupal skin".
Shedding more light on the new process of eri silk making in contrast with the traditional process, Singh says: "The traditional method of eri pre-pupae extraction by piercing the anterior end of the cocoons is not only a tedius process but also pretty much time consuming. On the other hand, the RELS process of eri lap sheet formation helps the tribals of the northeastern region to collect the eri pre-pupae and pupae in large quantities in one instance for selling in local markets".
Asked as to what time was required under RELS for eri silkworms to produce fabric, Singh said: “Normally, it takes three days and nights to make a fluffy pad of lap sheet by 1,500 matured eri silkworms to produce enough for making one square metre of fluffy silk filler of 1.5 kg weight, or one double size quilt material of the same thickness by 6,000 matured eri silkworms".
Singh went on to explain about the special features of fabric made by eri silkworms. "Eri silk, like other silks, is a kind of natural fibre which has luster, and is light, soft and thin. It cannot be reeled or unwound. So, it is spun like cotton. Eri silk has a high water content of about ten percent at the standard atmosphere of 22 degree celsius and 65 percent RH. It absorbs and releases moisture quickly. So, an eri silk quilt can keep our skin not too dry. Eri silk also possess some anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Moreover, it is quite popular for being the finest, softest and healthiest silk fibre,” Singh pointed out.
Revealing one more property of eri silk, Singh signed off by saying: “Eri silk is one of the nature’s finest insulators. It can maintain constant temperature holding heat near the body and quickly absorbs any excess moisture away from the body and into the air, regulating the temperature automatically. Eri silk is porous, which gives an excellent heat-retaining and humidity-keeping. It controls UV rays effectively by preventing the heat from diffusing, so eri silk quilt helps in keeping us warm. Besides that, other unique properties include non-toxicity, biocompatibility and biodegradability. Furthermore, eri silk making is a pollution-free industry. Hence, eri silk ought to receive more attention globally".