Srinagar: Masooda’s mother had borne the expenses of her marriage by spinning Pashmina on ‘yender’ (wheel).
But now it is difficult to make ends meet by Pashmina spinning. She said the entry of machine-made shawls had made life hard for the Pashmina artisans of Kashmir valley.
“This machine should be shut as it has hit us hard. My mother got me married by spinning Pashmina on yender. Her finger got damaged due to spinning and I too have been spinning Pashmina right from my childhood. However, it is difficult to make ends meet now,” Masooda told The Kashmir Monitor.
She spins ‘yender’ at a Pashmina spinning unit of Khadija and Fahmida located at Kathi Darwza area of the old city.
Khadija too said it was difficult to feed their families as the machine-made shawls had played spoilsport.
“Now it is difficult to feed our families. The main reason for this is machine-made shawls,” she told The Kashmir Monitor.
As part of efforts to facilitate Pashmina artisans, the Handicrafts Department has included the Pashmina Spinning unit of Khadija and Fahmida in the Crafts Safari.
The safari was started in the wake of Srinagar making it to the coveted list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Crafts and Folk Arts Category for the year 2021.
An official of the Handicrafts Department said Khadija and Fahmida were working hard to keep the practice of spinning yender alive.
“There was a time when every Kashmiri household owned a ‘yender’ – a spinning wheel used to create hand-spun Pashmina thread. Pashmina spinning has a rich legacy that ensures financial sustainability and independence for a good number of women in Kashmir. The sudden decline in the practice affected both the quality of pashmina and women. However, women like Khadija and Fahmida are working hard to take the legacy forward and keep this creative practice alive,” the official said.
“Khadija, 70, and Fahmida, 55 learned the craft when they were teenagers. They maintain a fine balance between work and household chores and spend 5-6 hours on average to spin sleek pashmina threads from refined pashmina raw material. Pashmina spinning helps them create a space where they do what they love and are good at. Skilled women train other women to learn the craft to ensure the craft’s sustainability,” he added.