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Jahnavi on spinning as a tool for reviving the handloom tradition

Jahnavi Pai, India (Global Environments Summer Academy 2014)

Can Spinning Help in Reviving Handloom?

It all began as a genuine concern that the handloom I love to wear is a dying art — just like any other village industry. The new generation of weavers don’t want the drudgery and hard work because there is barely any dignity in that kind of work.

I believed, like most urban consumers, that buying and wearing handloom is the only thing I could do to save it. However, some questions lingered — If buying is the only way to save the crafts, wouldn’t it then become the privilege of only those who can afford to buy it? How can handloom be made more affordable and accessible for everyone? And most importantly, what more could be done to bring back the dignity of being a weaver. After all, beyond aesthetics, it is only when our immediate needs of food, clothing and shelter are sourced and made locally that we truly become a sustainable society.

And thus began the journey of going beyond passive consumerism. It took me long to realise that I had to BE a part of the process, to own up the sweat and drudgery and that too with a badge of honour. The simplest way to do it was to spin.

This realisation was just the beginning of a long journey which ultimately led me to Madhav Sahasrabudhe, who has been teaching people the art of spinning for nearly eight years now! Today, two years and more than eight workshops later, there are at least 200 people who have learnt to spin.

Most people who spin will tell you how meditative and magical the experience is. It is rediscovering this magic in mechanical work and owning it up that will really help in saving our crafts… and hopefully even push our boundaries of what it means to be ecologically conscious.

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