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In Pictures: Kashmir's spinning trouble
Traditional art suffers as widows in Kashmir conflict are paid by the government at less than the cost of wool.
Last updated: 27 Aug 2014 11:27
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Srinagar, India-administered Kashmir - Decades of conflict in Indian-administered Kashmir have produced thousands of widows and "half-widows" - whose husbands have disappeared but not pronounced dead officially.

Most of these destitute families have been making their living by spinning normal sheep wool or Pashmina. But the number of women spinners is dwindling as the government prices for their goods does not match the rising cost of the trade.

The art of spinning has its roots in the Saxon age. But Kashmiri women-spinners' reference to its history is 14th-century mystic poetess Lal Ded and 16th century priestess and poetess Haba Khatoon. They both were spinners in their in-law's homes, and their poetry reflects and talks a lot about the spinning wheel. 

Habla Khatoon, 75, has been spinning yarn for 50 years. She, like many other Kashmiri women, has been spinning for most of her life to fulfill her family's basic needs.

"It is because of this tool that I've borne all the expenses of my children and even my first daughter's marriage," she told Al Jazeera.

The traditional art is seeing a decline as there has been no increase in the government payment for years.

"Cost of one kilo of wool has soared from Rs 6,000 ($99) to Rs 13,000 ($214) in a decade, but for these women it is same one rupee per knot what they earn from it. They don't get paid what they deserve for their hard work," Fayaz Ahmad, a wool dealer, said.


/Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera

Ishtiyaq Ahmad, 39, a carpenter displays a finished spinning wheel at his shop in Ael Kadal, Srinagar.



/Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera

Instead of purchasing raw wool for spinning, these women sell their Pashmina yarn to wool trader Fayaz Ahmad, who visited their village after a brief hiatus.



/Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera

An old woman combs the wool to smooth its roughness, which later helps in spinning finer thread. The spinning wheel, known as "Indre" in Kashmiri, is considered of great traditional and cultural importance to the region.



/Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera

Traditionally, Kashmiri woman at the spinning wheel can be seen wearing the traditional silver-embroidered "Pheran", or cloak and headscarf, with a particular knot at back of her head which is known as "Noori Gunde".



/Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera

Kashmiri women tend to engage in spinning after they are done with household chores.



/Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera

A few decades ago, this much revered tool, which gave Kashmiri women some form of economic independence, was present in almost every household. But now only widows or destitute families practice the trade.



/Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera

The presence of the spinning wheel at home is considered a blessing by Kashmiri women who engage in the activity.



/Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera

Some spinners say the Indian government has not paid enough attention to keeping the handicraft alive.



/Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera

Even though the price of wool per kilo has soared, the payment for the spinners has remained the same.



/Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera

Ten grams of wool, usually takes two to three days to spin. Some women can spin that amount in just one day.



/Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera

From 10 grams of wool, a spinner can make between Rs 50 ($0.83) to Rs 120 ($1.98), depending on how fine the yarn is.



/Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera

The raw wool for spinning is often imported from the Ladakh region of India-administered Kashmir.



/Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera

After the yarn is spun from raw wool, it is sent to the handloom artisan who weaves the thread into shawls.



/Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera

Even though there are now machines that allow faster output, handmade shawls still are in higher demand as they are considered to have the best quality and have a longer life.



/Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera

The art of the spinning wheel is a form of self-employment for Kashmiri women that requires no qualification besides learning the art. But it is in desperate need of attention or it will vanish.




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images:
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captions:

Ishtiyaq Ahmad, 39, a carpenter displays a finished spinning wheel at his shop in Ael Kadal, Srinagar.

;*;

Instead of purchasing raw wool for spinning, these women sell their Pashmina yarn to wool trader Fayaz Ahmad, who visited their village after a brief hiatus.

;*;

An old woman combs the wool to smooth its roughness, which later helps in spinning finer thread. The spinning wheel, known as "Indre" in Kashmiri, is considered of great traditional and cultural importance to the region.

;*;

Traditionally, Kashmiri woman at the spinning wheel can be seen wearing the traditional silver-embroidered "Pheran", or cloak and headscarf, with a particular knot at back of her head which is known as "Noori Gunde".

;*;

Kashmiri women tend to engage in spinning after they are done with household chores.

;*;

A few decades ago, this much revered tool, which gave Kashmiri women some form of economic independence, was present in almost every household. But now only widows or destitute families practice the trade.

;*;

The presence of the spinning wheel at home is considered a blessing by Kashmiri women who engage in the activity.

;*;

Some spinners say the Indian government has not paid enough attention to keeping the handicraft alive.

;*;

Even though the price of wool per kilo has soared, the payment for the spinners has remained the same.

;*;

Ten grams of wool, usually takes two to three days to spin. Some women can spin that amount in just one day.

;*;

From 10 grams of wool, a spinner can make between Rs 50 ($0.83) to Rs 120 ($1.98), depending on how fine the yarn is.

;*;

The raw wool for spinning is often imported from the Ladakh region of India-administered Kashmir.

;*;

After the yarn is spun from raw wool, it is sent to the handloom artisan who weaves the thread into shawls.

;*;

Even though there are now machines that allow faster output, handmade shawls still are in higher demand as they are considered to have the best quality and have a longer life.

;*;

The art of the spinning wheel is a form of self-employment for Kashmiri women that requires no qualification besides learning the art. But it is in desperate need of attention or it will vanish.

Daylife ID:
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Photographer:
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Image Source:
Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera;*;Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera;*;Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera;*;Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera;*;Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera;*;Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera;*;Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera;*;Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera;*;Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera;*;Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera;*;Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera;*;Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera;*;Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera;*;Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera;*;Aarabu Ahmad Sultan/Al Jazeera
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Daylife
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