Spinning progress

By: Louk Vreeswijk

Jun 19 2016

Tags: ,

Category: Asia, India

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Focal Length:38.5mm
Shutter:1/0 sec

Seen from the sky Kerala seems to be inhabited only by palm trees. People and houses are invisible. Still there are many millions of them, hidden underneath the green cover of palm leaves. So it is not surprising that since a long time processing of coir – the fibrous outer husk of the coconut – into ropes and mats has been a traditional occupation of hundreds of thousands of people. And it still is. The spinning of coir is only one phase in the whole processing chain. It is done by women around their homes, as a cottage industry.

In my film Made in Kerala you can see the whole process. At that time, 35 years ago, two women were needed to spin the yarn. One woman for the magical part of it that you see performed by the woman in the picture, and a second one for turning a wheel that made the two hooks turn round at which the ropes-to-be were fixed.

DSC00314 Arattupuzha-blogcolumn

When I recently revisited the area where I had made my film, women were still engaged in the spinning of coir yarn in their courtyards, but now one woman could do the job. The hand-operated wheel with the two hooks was replaced by a simple electric device that turned the hooks round at the right speed.

DSC00324 Arattupuzha-blogcolumn

The process of spinning may have changed a bit over time, but the ladies are still as lively and lovely as before.

Photos of the week: Coir spinning, Arattupuzha, Kerala, India 2014

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