Traditional Spinning of Pashmina Fibre.

Traditional Spinning of Pashmina Fibre.

The art of spinning Pashmina fiber on a traditional charkha is a delicate and intricate process that transforms raw fibers into luxurious yarn, celebrated for its exceptional softness and warmth. This traditional craft, deeply rooted in the cultural heritage of Kashmir, represents centuries of artisanal expertise and dedication.

The Origins of Pashmina

Pashmina, often referred to as the “diamond fabric” and the “soft gold of high Asia,” originates from the undercoat of the Changthangi goat, which is native to the high altitudes of the Himalayas. The extreme cold in these regions necessitates a fine, insulating undercoat, which is what makes Pashmina wool so special.

The Role of the Charkha

The traditional charkha, a simple yet effective spinning wheel, is integral to the production of Pashmina yarn. It symbolizes a blend of simplicity and craftsmanship, turning raw fiber into thread with remarkable precision.

The Process of Spinning Pashmina on the Charkha

  1. Fiber Preparation:

    • Harvesting: Pashmina fiber is collected by combing the undercoat of the Changthangi goats, typically during the spring molting season.
    • Cleaning: The raw fibers are carefully cleaned to remove any impurities. This step is crucial as it ensures the smoothness and consistency of the final yarn.
    • Carding: The cleaned fibers are carded to align them and prepare them for spinning. Carding helps in disentangling and straightening the fibers.
  2. Setting Up the Charkha:

    • Spindle Preparation: The spindle, the central component of the charkha, must be properly set up. It needs to be balanced and free of any obstructions.
    • Adjusting the Tension: Proper tension must be maintained on the drive belt to ensure smooth rotation. This is essential for creating even and consistent yarn.
  3. Spinning:

    • Drawing the Fiber: The spinner gently draws the carded Pashmina fibers while turning the wheel. This requires a steady hand and a rhythmic motion to maintain an even thickness.
    • Twisting the Fiber: As the fibers are drawn out, they are twisted by the rotating spindle. The twist is what binds the fibers together into a continuous strand of yarn.
    • Winding the Yarn: Once spun, the yarn is carefully wound onto the spindle. This is done periodically to avoid overloading the spindle and breaking the yarn.
  4. Finishing the Yarn:

    • Plying (Optional): For certain applications, the spun yarn may be plied, which involves twisting two or more strands together to create a stronger, thicker yarn.
    • Washing and Setting: The finished yarn is washed to remove any residual oils and to set the twist. This step enhances the softness and luster of the yarn.

The Skill and Patience of the Artisan

Spinning Pashmina on a charkha is not merely a mechanical process but an art form that demands immense skill and patience. Artisans often inherit these skills through generations, learning to handle the delicate fibers with finesse and precision. The rhythmic motion of the charkha, combined with the careful attention of the spinner, creates a meditative process that results in yarn of unparalleled quality.

Cultural and Economic Significance

The traditional charkha spinning of Pashmina holds significant cultural value in Kashmir. It represents a heritage craft that connects contemporary artisans with their ancestors. Economically, the production of Pashmina provides livelihoods to many families, supporting local economies and preserving traditional skills.

Modern Relevance and Sustainability

In today’s world, there is a growing appreciation for sustainable and ethically produced textiles. Pashmina yarn spun on a traditional charkha embodies these values. The process is environmentally friendly, relying on human skill rather than industrial machinery, and the use of natural fibers promotes eco-conscious fashion.


Spinning Pashmina on the traditional charkha is a timeless craft that marries historical tradition with contemporary relevance. It produces yarn that is not only a luxury item but also a symbol of cultural heritage and sustainable craftsmanship. For those who wear Pashmina, understanding the meticulous process and the skill involved adds a layer of appreciation for this exquisite fabric. Whether you are an artisan, a textile enthusiast, or a conscious consumer, the story of Pashmina spinning is a testament to the enduring beauty of handcraftsmanship.

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