Hand Spinning & Hand Weaving an Essay
Mirza Firuz Shah
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Jahangir II 1920-1948
Publisher and Place:
The All India Spinners Association
Royal Mughal Ref:
History Of Hand Spinning and Hand Weaving:
The origins of spinning fibre to make string or yarn are lost in time, but archaeological evidence in the form of representation of string skirts has been dated to the Upper Paleolithic era, some 20,000 years ago. In the most primitive type of spinning, tufts of animal hair or plant fibre are rolled down the thigh with the hand, and additional tufts are added as needed until the desired length of spun fibre is achieved. Later, the fibre is fastened to a stone which is twirled round until the yarn is sufficiently twisted, whereupon it is wound upon the stone and the process repeated over and over.
The next method of spinning is hand spurn yarn is with the spindle, a straight stick eight to twelve inches long on which the yarn is wound after twisting. At first the stick had a cleft or split in the top in which the thread was fixed. Later, a hook of bone was added to the upper end. The bunch of wool or plant fibres is held in the left hand. With the right hand the fibres are drawn out several inches and the end fastened securely in the slit or hook on the top of the spindle. A whirling motion is given to the spindle on the thigh or any convenient part of the body. The twisted yarn is then wound on to the upper part of the spindle. Another bunch of fibres is drawn out, the spindle is given another twirl, the yarn is wound on the spindle, and so on.
The distaff was used for holding the bunch of wool, flax, or other fibres. It was a short stick, on one end of which was loosely wound the raw material. The other end of the distaff was held in the hand, under the arm or thrust in the girdle of the spinner. When held thus, one hand was left free for drawing out the fibres.
A spindle containing a quantity of yarn rotates more easily, steadily, and continues longer than an empty one; hence, the next improvement was the addition of a weight called a spindle whorl at the bottom of the spindle. These whorls are discs of wood, stone, clay, or metal with a hole in the centre for the spindle, which keep the spindle steady and promote its rotation. Spindle whorls appeared in the Neolithic era. They allowed the spinner to slowly lower, or drop, the spindle as it was spinning, thus allowing a greater quantity of yarn to be created before it had to be wound onto the spindle; hence the name "drop spindle," which is now most commonly used for the hand spindle with whorl attached.
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