How did you learn your skill?
Mohd sits on the edge of what’s called a pit loom, a large hole dug out of the ground, the loom placed over the top, his feet operating the pedals below. “A friend invited me to Panipat, the place where dhurries originate, so that I could learn to weave them. My skill is a ‘boon’ as we say in India, a gift from God. I’m grateful for it every day.”
His work is methodical, hypnotic. The yarn hangs horizontally and vertically, moving rhythmically as he works to create the dhurrie, a traditional Indian textile we use in several of our pieces. “When I’m weaving, I shut everything out – thoughts, people – and just concentrate. The loom is my boss.”
It’s common for people to travel great distances in order to find work in specialist areas; the workshops provide them with accommodation. “I live with the other weavers who came here from Bengal,” Mohd tells us. “ As Muslims, we’re the first non-vegetarians to come to this workshop, so we cook together, mutton and lamb. It’s like one enormous family.”
Mohd Hasim, weaver, 45