Our weavers back in Kashmir have been hoarding these shuttles. It’s a sad story why.
It takes special skill and precision to make these shuttles that can pass between the intricate Pashmina threads without entanglement. The making of the shuttle is a complex process. It involves wood work and also metal work. The finishing needed is very complicated, since even the slightest slivers can cause damage to the shawls being made.
Presently there’s only ONE LAST person alive who practices the craft. He’s old and soon the craft will die! Hence the hoarding of the shuttles. Unfortunately, we couldn’t meet the hands and mind sustaining the craft of shuttle making. But next time we definitely will, and till then we are on the lookout for some skilled young people to learn the craft, so the legacy continues.
The making of each shawl involves a number of people: The person who collects the wool in Ladhakh, the spinner, the dyer, the warp maker, and finally the weaver. Supporting crafts include shuttle makers, graphic artists, loom makers and repair mechanics, the raffugar and many more. Each one is equally important. A highly skilled Raffugar for example, can save months of hardwork with his skillful repair job of expensive pieces. Post weaving art on Kashmiri shawls includes the block makers, the pattern printer, embroiderers, the washer man to name a few. Together they make beautiful pieces that are heirlooms.
It’s humbling to see how much these craftsmen love and respect the tools of the trade. And also each other. There is truly no hierarchy, just mutual gratefulness for each other’s trades and skills.
There’s so much to learn from societies that are yet to be altered with the ramifications of development. There’s so much that was done right traditionally and now face extinction. While change is important and unavoidable. It is also equally important to hold on to pieces of history, especially the beautiful parts.