Bhopal: Poor returns, back-breaking labour threatens existence of Pashmina shawl weaving art

"I never went to school but my two sons go to one. I don’t want them to join this profession,” Tesering Chotan, 52, from Basic Ladakh Handloom Weavers Society, Kargil, told Free Press.

Staff ReporterUpdated: Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 07:42 PM IST
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Bhopal: A woman looks at Pashmina shawl at State Handloom Expo at Bhopal Haat | FP Photo

Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): The art of weaving the world-famous Pashmina shawls is dying. The returns are poor and the younger generation is not interested in taking up the work.

Artisans from Ladakh, who have set up stall at the ongoing State Handloom Expo at Bhopal Haat, said that they were unable to sell their products online because of network issues in the rural areas of Ladakh.

Pashmina shawls, stoles and mufflers, known for their warmth and their exquisite embroidery work, are handspun and handwoven using the wool of Changpa, a Himalayan goat found in Ladakh.

Tesering Chotan, 52, from Basic Ladakh Handloom Weavers Society, Kargil, told Free Press that traditionally, women handled the spinning and weaving part whereas men went from place to place selling the products. “But things are changing and now women have also started moving out. I began travelling about two years back,” she said.

Weaving and spinning is done at a community hall in her village. “We work in two shifts - from 8 am to 5 pm and from 8 pm to 2 am. In between, we have to do household chores too,” she said.

All the eight members of her family are involved in the work. “I never went to school but my two sons go to one. I don’t want them to join this profession,” she said.

Nasir Ali, also from the same society, said, “Kashmiris who make Pashmina shawls buy raw material from Ladakh. Their products costlier because of the heavy embroidery work. A shawl may even cost Rs 1 lakh. However, we make plain shawls whose costs range from Rs 1,500 - 17,000,” he said.

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