Making of Malkha

Advocacy, Codes of Practice, Craft, Handloom, Art, Policy

Making of Malkha

Uzramma

Few people are aware that the pre-spinning technology of cotton yarn making is damaging to cotton. After cotton from the fields is ginned in ginning mills, it is baled in steam presses for transport to spinning mills. Baling compresses trash such as bits of seed coat or leaf into the cotton and makes the soft lint into a hard, compact mass, like a block of wood. This hard mass has then to be unbaled and brought back to its original soft, fluffy state which in the spinning mill is done through the blow-room. By the time the delicate fibres of cotton have gone through these violent processes they are no longer springy but limp and lifeless and have lost a large part of their good qualities. A group of us realized this some years ago, and took up an experiment to spin cotton on a small scale in a way which would cut out some of the damaging processes and which would make yarn specifically for handloom weaving.
Indian cotton cloth was famous throughout the world from at least Roman times, and was the most important source of India’s fabled wealth: Pliny, the historian of Rome, complained in the 1st century A.D. that India was draining Rome of her gold. It is perfectly possible today to produce cloth of a comparable quality, building on a combination of Indian strengths - the millions of small cotton farmers, the number of different local cotton varieties, the vast pool of handloom weaving skills. No other country has this particular combination, this set of circumstances, and the climatic conditions that make it p...
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