Spinning the Kusti

Parzor Foundation

The tools and the spinning process of the Kusti - the sacred cord worn round the waist by Zoroastrians. 

Zoroastrian women start by covering their head with a mathabanu, a white muslin scarf in respect for their sacred craft. Some do their kusti prayers while others start by reciting Yatha Ahu Vairyo or the Ahuna Vairya - a Gathic Avestan prayer.

(Left) - Late Katy Sorabji of Navsari on the Junu Jantar.

Spinning Tools : Chaatardi and Chaaterdo

The Chaatardi or the Spindle (8-10 inches long) is used for spinning the pooni wool into yarn.

The Chaaterdo is also a wooden drop spindle with a thicker shaft and wider whorl known as moti bhimri, roughly two inches in diameter.

Oon Kantwanu or Spinning the Wool :
For preparing the yarn for weaving, the fibers are separated and arranged by the women who tease the wool by pulling apart the locks with their fingers. They divide the wool into small pieces of about eight to ten inches. The wool piece is either tied in the centre with a strand of wool or is left loose.

After this, the weaver engages in double plying using two spindles.

The spinner prepares durry from two spindles. The yarn from the durry is given a double twist in a process known as val dewanu . The spinner has to spin enough yarn to make the kusti. Normally for a medium size mapni kusti the weaver requires a maximum of three chaaterdos and approximately 40 grams of wool.

Jantar-The Kusti Loom was always an important part of a Zoroastrian household. It is a wooden, foldable loom, which is narrow and tubular believed to have originated in Navsari around 1930's.

Earlier the junu jantar or the older loom was used for weaving. Made up of three pieces, the jantar has been modified over the years. When an additional stool is added on the base, the type of jantar is known as goriwala jantar or a jantar with a stool. This is done so that a weaver can weave sitting on a chair or a stool.

Junu Goriwalu Jantar

Kateli or The Beater
This comb shaped apparatus is used as a beater during the weaving process. The kateli has a rounded handle, and the upper portion is thicker at one end and tapers smoothly.

The katelis differ in their thickness, but are mostly of the same length. To weave thin kustis, a kateli that is not very thick may be used. Katelis are generally made from Sheesham because the wood has to be extremely smooth and should not break the warp threads.

Tan Khuta is attached to the loom during the warping process. The wooden piece has three wooden pegs on which the threads are wound. The tan khuta can be moved all along the charavana hatha in order to get the required length of the warp.

The Khangu is a hollow cylindrical tool that is used to separate the warp yarns. It is placed in front of the veesoon and tied with it so that both move together on the warp.

The Veesoon is a hollow tube, roughly three inches in length, which has four slots. The veesoon is used in order to separate different units of the yarn while warping and weaving. It is necessary to lock the threads in it for which a stick or a sali is used.

The doro or the nylon thread that is used for making shafts.

The Gargari is the pulley, which is placed in different places in order to hold the warp. There are four sets of gargaris with an extra one placed on the right charavana hatha . This pulley is not a part of the loom and has to be suspended on the warp and is fastened with a chain or a string.

Credits: Story

The craftswomen of Navsari who have shared their homes and skill with us, especially the cooperative spirit of Navaz and Erna Bamji over the years and the Late Katy Sorabji.

Parzor's first researcher, Ashdeen Lilaowala, then a student of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad did the first ever textile study of this Bronze Age Craft of Kusti Weaving in Navsari.

This research culminated into Threads of Continuity , co-authored by Ashdeen Lilaowala and Dr. Shernaz Cama available at http://unescoparzor.com/publication/.

The Late Vada Dastur Meherjirana of Navsari for explaining details of the symbolism and Late General Adi Sethna, Founder President, Parzor

Jonas Spinoy, Dushyant Mehta and Hemant Mehta, Rustom Havewala - Photography

Dr. Shernaz Cama, Director UNESCO Parzor

Vanshika Singh, Researcher, Parzor Foundation

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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