TRAVEL NEWS: The “Wool Road” in Kinnaur, India – where Every Shawl is a Prayer

Kinnaur’s identity is expressed in Colors and Patterns. In October 2010, intricately patterned woollen shawls hand-woven by the indigenous community of Kinnaur district, Himachal Pradesh for generations was recognised under the Geographical Indications of Goods Act, 1999. With it, the rightful title and heritage of the ‘Kinnauri shawl’ was restored to the custody of the indigenous artisans of the region.

Weaving is a very antique art and is now being revived to serve as an employment option to make rural woman financially independent. Kinnauri and Kulu shawls are known worldwide for their bright colours and intricate designs.

This documentary highlights the plea of such small scale weavers who would flourish manifold, if the government devised some subsidy plans for them. With a little help from the local authorities these weavers are confident to take their unique skills of weaving to a new platform.

The beautiful natural landscape of Kinnaur and its eclectic cultural mix of Hinduism, Buddhism and native shamanism find expression in the colours and patterns of a Kinauri shawl. The colours represent the elements and the patterns are religious motifs and prayer symbols. In the 45 days it takes to weave a single shawl, colour and texture come together in geometry and mythology forming a tapestry of chants. The Kinnauri shawl is popular in both domestic and foreign markets. Registering the ‘Kinnauri shawl’ as a geographical indicator of the region has curbed unauthorized production and misuse of the brand name. It has empowered the local artisan and protected the local economy. In an age of power looms and outsourced sweat shops, the artisans of Kinnaur still retain the choice and the time to weave on a traditional pitloom. Kinnaur is one of the most sparsely populated districts in the country. Nestled among the high mountains and heavily snowed on during the long winters, the inaccessibility of the region has contributed to its mystery and mysticism. It is a place of solitude and quiet. Chances are you will hear the looms. The sound of hands and eyes working together. Plucking and spinning coarse wool into the tune of a prayer.

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Editor’s Note: Original World Tours offers unique cultural immersion tours to Knnaur and the Spiti Valley in India, including the upcoming Ancient Cultures of the Indian Himalaya, which departs in September 2014.

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