When you ask someone what you can do in Munsiyari apart from walking through the hillsides, people will often recommend a visit to Darkot village. Women of this village raise Angora rabbits, and weave their wool into the wonderfully soft stoles, shawls, and caps which you can see in high-end stores in cities. The heavy smoke in the air meant we couldn’t possibly do any long walks. So off we went to Darkot.
I was beginning to get used to these gateways into apparent emptiness next to highways. They tell you where to find a steep path leading down to a village. This was the gateway to Darkot. As we walked down from here, a lady asked us whether we wanted to see Angora shawls. We did, and were glad to be invited into her house.
The lady who invited us in to see her products asked whether we would like to watch the weaving. I was hoping she would ask, and I jumped at the opportunity. An older lady was in an inside room, at a hand loom next to a window. The light was wonderful, and I took out my camera. She was absorbed in her work, but willing to talk as she worked. There would be a rush of words as she worked, and then, when she had to concentrate, the explanations would dry out, until she began to talk again. She was happy to talk me through the process that you can see in the video above. This is the last stage, she explained. The wool is sheared from the animal, the yarn is mixed with wool at home, and then woven.
She lived here with her son, daughter in law, and grandchildren. The whole family was involved in the business. Shawls were not the only thing they made, stoles and caps were also available. I inspected the caps, warm, with the halo which Angora wool has. The only colours they had were white and gray. Price? They would give it to us at the same price which they got from the cooperative. What does the cooperative do? They sell it to on to Delhi, but also have a showroom in Munsiyari.
I went out to look at wildflowers around the village. When I came back later, the older lady had taken a break from weaving, and was busy rocking the youngest grandchild to sleep. I waved, and she smiled at me.