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Double wages, year-round orders likely to boost women participation in hand-woven pashmina business

Post by Rising Kashmir on Sunday, August 14, 2022

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Women spinning raw pashmina into yarn on a traditional wooden spinning-wheel, locally called Yinder, used to be a common sight in Kashmir homes. However cheap shawls from mechanized mills coupled with poor wages dealt a severe blow to the genuine Kashmiri stoles.  
The number of women's associated with handspun pashmina shawls decreased significantly in Kashmir over a period of time, but a rare move to double wages and ensure round the year orders and introduction of  new spinning wheel that works by a pedal, to yarn pashmina is likely to turn things around.
Shayista Shabir from Chount Waliwar area of central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district had given up pashmina spinning. “Poor wages and machines have played a role in de-motivating women to continue this work.”
However she is quite hopeful that things may change for good now.
Another woman, Toiba Rehman said the art of spinning a traditional wheel to spin yarn was so important that it was regarded as a qualification for a girl to get married. She said Charkha or Yinder was also a favorite for the poets in the past and many songs were also composed on it.
Shayista and Toiba are attending a training centre opened by the Handloom Department to boost the hand-woven pashmina business.
Both the artisans say they are grateful to the department who set up the training centre where besides traditional Yinder training is imparted on the pedal run new spinning wheel.
An official from the Handloom Department said that they have installed three centers at different locations including Serech, Waliwar, and Rangil in the district where 20 women are trained every year.
Women used to be the backbone in the value chain of pashmina shawl production. The shawl making process involves sorting, dusting, dehairing, combing, spinning and finishing; all these were dominated by the female workforce.
Spinning on a traditional Kashmiri charkha allows longer threads of Pashmina wool with fine hair-like size, unlike machines, and adds to the softness and warmth of the product.

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