Reimagining Pashmina: ‘Modern charkha’ to revive declining art in Kashmir

Srinagar, June 19 (KMS): Alongside the threat of fake and machine-made Pashmina products in the markets, the art of hand spinning of yarn has been witnessing a decline over time in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

However, the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences & Technology, Kashmir (SKUAST-K) has patented a ‘modern charkha’ that is now touted to revive the art of hand-spinning and also increase the output by around 150 per cent.

“This charkha was invented by the SKUAST-K and we got the patent in February 2021. Traditionally, one would spin the yarn by moving the regular charkha with the right hand and holding the thread with the left hand. Now, this charkha is rotated with the help of feet but the remaining process remains the same and it will more than double the output,” Professor Sarfaraz Ahmad Wani from the SKUAST-K told media.

He said the charkha, which costs around Rs. 5000, had been duly tested and it had no impact on the Pashmina quality.

“The quality remains exactly the same. We tested the charkha with 200 ladies. We did a survey too by giving them the traditional as well the charkha invented by the SKUAST-K,” said Wani.

Director, Handicrafts and Handloom, Kashmir, Mahmood Ahmad Shah said the ‘modern charkha’ would revive the art of spinning of Pashmina yarn.

“The Geographical Indicator (GI) of Pashmina has been accorded in 2008. It mandates the use of hand spun and hand woven Pashmina with fibre thickness under 16 Microns for the making of Pashmina shawl. It has been noticed that the art of hand spinning of Pashmina yarn has been on decline due to meagre wages paid to the spinners (ladies).Enhancement of the wage component shall be helpful to revive the art of hand spinning, by the introduction of modern charkha as the output increases 2.5 times,” he said.

“The charkha provides a dignified and modern way of Pashmina spinning .These two interventions if done collectively by the stakeholders and the Handicrafts Department can help in the revival of traditional hand spun and hand woven Pashmina shawl that remains the identity of Kashmir,” he added.