Srinagar: As the number of women associated with hand-spinning of yarns for Pashmina shawls has dwindled significantly in Kashmir, ‘Me &K’ –, luxury international cashmere brand by Mujtaba Kadri has come up with a rare initiative to double the wages and ensure round –the –year work for women artisans.
Me & K inaugurated its Craft Centre for Excellence in Pashmina Weaving at Kheiwan Narwara in downtown Srinagar on Wednesday.
The centre of excellence for Pashmina was inaugurated by Director Handicrafts and Handloom Kashmir, Mahmood Shah and Maxmillano Modesti, a well known Craft Preservationist. The event was attended by artisans as well as Pashmina traders.
“Less returns, poor wages and machines have played a role in driving away women who used to spin the finest yarns in the world. This centre of excellence in Pashmina is aimed to revive the lost glory of hand-made shawls,” said Kadri adding that they have decided to double the wages for women from Rs 1 per knot, of 10 threads with 10-inch-long yarn, to Rs 2.
“Me and K is currently giving employment to three hundred women spinners in Kashmir. We have also launched much awaited Ladakh Pashmina brand under their own name; each lot of Pashmina is tested in CDI lab for micron and purity. Me and K raw Pashmina will be available through Shair Brothers in one kilogram packages to make it easy for small scale weavers.”
“The opening of this centre of excellence represents an important step in reviving, promoting and protecting Kashmir Valley’s ancient hand-weaving techniques, which are being lost and forgotten due to the proliferation of cheap, machine-spun cashmere. This inspiring initiative is also bringing much needed sustainable employment opportunities for spinners (women) and weavers, whilst also ensuring them decent working conditions and fair wages,” he said.
“The Centre for Excellence in weaving prides itself on using only traditional hand techniques to produce the finest Pashmina in the world – which Kashmir is famous for. The yarn is spun by hand, using a charkha (spinning wheel) rather than a machine spun yarn. This makes the threads much finer, resulting in a softer and smoother pashmina. The exclusive focus on hand techniques means that wages offered to the craftspeople are almost double the market rate,”he added.
Director Handicrafts and Handlooms also spoke on the occasion, he said the department has laid emphasis on GI certification and lab at CDI is testing Pashmina to certify its authenticity.
He said that in coming days they would strengthen the testing centre in collaboration with SKUAST- K.