The rustic background of her home, mud plastered wall and woody smoky aroma from her Kitchen, Gaura Bai Kolekar, a graceful and loving aaji (Grandma) adorned herself in a beautiful Ilkal nauvari sari and bormala, was sitting on the floor. The enchanting smile on her face was absolutely welcoming. She is one among those few people who are capable of doing hand spinning. The modernization and industrialization has stolen the authenticity and organic features of the dhangar community and polluted their affluent culture and tradition as well. Now handspun woolen yarns are rarely made. There is a small set up for spinning in nearby village. For an instant aaji took a quick journey to her memory lane and explained how it used to be in olden days; each household women used to spin woolen yarns at their homes. The process of yarn making is very simple and yet time consuming and highly skilled hands are needed to make even yarns. The woolen fibers are trimmed from the cattle and directly used for making yarn without any chemical treatment and processing. It is believed that the raw wool is having some medicinal properties which can prevent health hazards. There are two methods of spinning yarn; one is with the help of a charka and the other one with the help of a simple wooden tool. Aaji started making yarn by softening the fibers by hand, she removed the tangled fibers the held on left hand and pulled some fiber forward, and subsequently she twisted them and attached to her spinning tool and slowly continued twisting the spinning tool. It is an astounding and captivating visual of making yarn. Once enough yarn is ready, they are taken to the weavers.
The beauty of Indian crafts are the gender equality, both men and women are engaged in making respectively and it can be seen in the whole process of ghongdi making also. Once the bundle of yarn is arrived at the weavers place then the warping is taken place. Usually the required warp yarn is made by the female member of the family with the help of wooden equipments called Taanari and Purani. Tanari is wooden equipment which has a plank as base and eleven wooden stick fixed on it. The hand spun yarn is winded on Taanari with the help of wooden pipe called Purani. Once the required amount of yarn is winded it is taken out for warping. Warping is a tedious process which consumes good amount of time. The warping is taken place on a temporary frame outdoor. Each and every yarn is separately observed and knots are removed. The whole process of warping is known as ‘Pajni’. Once the yarns are properly set on the wooden frame then they are starched well with starch made out of tamarind seed. The beauty of ghongdi is its organic way of making, there is not even a single procedure where machineries are involved; even now also artisans make starch at home by grinding the tamarind seeds manually though it is a tedious process. The process of making starch starts with collecting seeds and splitting them into pieces. Then the broken pieces are soaked in water overnight and next day it is grinded in a giant grinding stone. This consumes a lot of energy and time. The grinding goes and over and over until the paste will obtain a pasty consistency which is not so thick and thin or nor watery. After the grinding process, the paste is boiled well on wood fire on a slow flame for around 12 hours. Once the starch is boiled well and made into a required consistency it is kept for cooling down and the later on is gently applied on the warp yarns. Artisans make sure that the starch is applied evenly on each yarn, and once the application is done a handmade comb made of some grass root is used for combing the yarns. This whole process of warping consumes plenty of time and energy of an artist. Then the warp is kept for drying under sun. In usual pit loom or in frame loom, there are ready made heddles where as in ghongdi weaving the heddles is made manually with a very think thread. This process is as fascinating and interesting. The artisan inserts a wooden rod into the warp dividing them into up and down sets of yarns and then a thin iron rod is kept on top parallel to the wooden rod. Later on a long string of thick thread is braided by capturing the whole three components, the warp yarns, the iron rod as well as the wooden rod. Once the process of making heddles is done, the warp is rolled out and taken for weaving.
The weaving of ghongdi is taken place at a very simple and oldest model of pit loom which is called ‘Maag’ in local language. The loom doesn’t have any features of shuttle loom, no frames nor the use of wooden shuttle. Every components of the loom is separable and during the time of weaving process it is attached to each other. The loom setting stats with spreading the warp and attaching it to the cloth beam which is called ‘Turai’ in regional language. The warp beam is different from a usual frame loom, here the warp yarns are spread on a wooden road and this is attached to a bow shaped tool called ‘Tunku’. Tunku is tied on a wooden pillar with a strong rope and the rope is connected to a small wooden stick near the cloth beam which is called ‘hath khuta’ which will be used by the weaver later on when the enough amount of fabric is woven and it should be rolled for further weaving. Once the rope is tied tightly on hath khunta, the weaver starts his work on setting the other parts of loom. Understanding the process of setting this loom is not that easy though it appears simple and don’t appear as complicated as a shuttle loom. The woven wefts are beaten with the help of a wooden rod, and then come the heddles which are known as ‘awai phani’ in regional language. It is accompanied with a thick wooden road. There is a component called ‘Jatar’ an inverted ‘T’ shaped tool which is connected to the wai pani(heddles). Jatar, the invented T shaped tool is having a twine attached to it called ‘Tangani’; when the weaver pulls ‘Tangani’, Jatar the inverted T shaped tool lifts the heddles which causes to up and down movements of warp yarns. There is one component which appears like a huge wooden comb and it is called ‘Neeri’ is regional language. The components of ghongdi weaving loom ends with Aadsar and Betki which can be compared to whip beam. Once the loom is set, weaver commence the initial weaving of approximate an inch and applies starch to make the weave firm. Once the weaves is satisfies with the woven pattern, he continues the further weaving of ghongdi. The weaving can be finished within a day if there is no obstruction and the whole process of making ghongdi can take approximate five to six days and sometimes it can even take more than that also.
Part - 1