The very word silk has a touch of class about it. Sensuous and romantic, it has captivated man for many centuries. In Karnataka, as in other parts of India where silk is fancied, it is, in fact, a way of life. It has also become an inseparable part of the Kannada culture and tradition. No ritual in complete without the participants wearing silk in some form or another.
Karnataka has contributed a great deal to the growth of India's silk industry. Karnataka's 200-year-old silk industry owes its origin to
Tipu Sultan who ruled Mysore with his capital at Srirangapatna. Tipu showed a very individual interest in sericulture and sent his people to Bengal to obtain silk worms. He also established 21 centers in his dominion to rear the silk worm thus providing the required foundation for sericulture in the region. Sericulture received yet another boost during World War II when parachute manufacturers
needed large quantities of the fabric. As China, the largest producer, was then under Japanese occupation, the Allies obtained silk from India especially from Mysore. Necessity compelled the British to encourage silk production not only in the then
Mysore State (now Karnataka) but also in the neighboring regions. Today, Karnataka alone is contributing 75 per cent of mulberry silk to the nation's production.