In hindsight I probably could have snuck my recorder into the silk factory, although there was heavy security and they wanted to keep my bag at the entrance. Therefore I didn’t get any recordings of the sounds in the factory but I do want to describe them to you because they were crazy and interesting.
The technology in the factory was something out of a Charles Dickens novel; Victorian style machinery powered by mechanics working on mass production. The machines weren’t as old as that but the technology was. The first room that we entered was where they collect the raw silk on multiple rails, the clang of the metal rails as they slip the silk onto them.
The next room was filled with machines. There were bobins immediately by the door which spun the silk, each bobin whirred rotationally, collected with it’s hundreds of neighbours to make a kind of terrific wind noise.
The next room was where they warp the silk. Hundreds of strands of silk are elaborately stretched out like the strings of a piano, and are then brought together and around a giant roller. The thwack of the roller turned by hand in a revolution a second.
The weaving room was incredibly loud, I now understand why the term industrial deafness was invented, and every worker in there had ear protection. It must have been above 100 dB at all times. The clack, clack, clack of the weaving boards, and the brrr of the cogs turning, the click of the manual changers allowing the workers to switch the designs. Interestingly the golden borders on the saree are made at the weaving stage.
The next room was the dying room, the swish of the water that the dye is in combined with an updraft of compressed air. The rush of water in the background through the pipes.