Spinning wheel, the oldest art that was “once talk of the time” faces neglect

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By Fast Kashmir on 11/11/2018.

Spinning wheel, the oldest art that was “once talk of the time” faces neglect

Sadam Hussain Pandow

Srinagar,  Nov 11: “When returns over spinning thread downgraded us economically we winded up spinning work and axed our traditional wheels for coal making,” narrates a women folk.
Aftermath of autumn season in Kashmir, coldness was splayed over. Zoona; an aged lady is sitting on a reed mat under the house of mud covered with tin roof. Zoona is looking for new work as she left spinning work recently.


Zoona States the reasons that compelled her to left spinning work inconsolably, “for weaving single knot, one needs to keep her legs tiptoed against her body that makes us unable to move freely. Moreover, it takes lot of time and in reward one gets too little and this stands reason why women are quitting from spinning work and opting for other works,”


In Kashmiri language people calls it ‘Yender’ while in English its name is Spinning wheel. A spinning wheel is a device made up of wood used for spinning thread or yarn from natural or synthetic fibres. It is believed that spinning wheels were first used in India, between 500 and 1000 A.D.


Another old age women namely Haseena Akhter shares that she spins every day for 2 hours in winter only as of extreme coldness not allows her to work in other places. She adds, “decades before, the work was very common in villages even I witnessed many of our old age women encourages everyone to spin that time but economical distraught led outburst in this profession.”

Sadam Hussain Pandow/FK

Rolling back her time to time memories, Haseena says the spinning wheel was once sort of an Icon in their village. She believes that vanishing of spinning wheel work not only erased this rapid pace of spinning work only but ended the art of storytelling that was once commonly spoken by legendary women Saara to trainee women folk during spinning work in terms poetry and prose.

Decades before, Kashmiri women were commonly betrothed in the traditional art of making delicate threads from natural or synthetic fibres. In Kashmir, it is believed they make threads goat yarn. The women would toil hard from dawn to dusk in spinning the wheels to produce the delicate threads for making the Kani Shawl (Pashmina), known globally for its softness and comfort, and others.
The art of spinning was once talk of the time among women’s across the Kashmir valley. Spinning wheel was lonely way to earn daily livelihood in the poor families of valley but now even no one wants to take the name of device on tongue, local women confides.

Pic by, Sadam Hussain Pandow/FK

With the advent of industrialization in the 18th century, the task was delegated to machines. An ex-spinning artisan believes the girls do not prefer the craft because present technological driven era offers better opportunities to earn more. Most of the girls, she says, feel hesitant to adopt the old-tradition craft.
“The craft demands technological revolution to hook the new cohorts towards it,” she suggests.

The art of spinning wheels was once considered sacred as it was chosen by Kashmiris renowned women like Habba Khatoon, Lal Ded and moreover by most famous Indian nationalist leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.