Monday, March 7, 2011

Spinning with a charkha

Ange brought a pretty little box to one of our lunches, opened it up, and within minutes was spinning yarn!

The box contained a small charkha—a portable, hand-cranked spinning wheel good for spinning cotton and other short-staple fibers.

Apparently, the charkha was an important tool and symbol in the Indian independence movement. It provided a way of producing cotton cloth without having to ship it off to the English cotton mills. Mahatma Gandhi popularized the charkha (as in this video of Gandhi spinning), and early versions of the Indian flag included a charkha.

If you think I've been misspelling chakra this whole time, you're not far off. Charkha and chakra have the same origin, from the old Persian word for "wheel".