If the loom is the canvas, and the weaver is the artist, what is the fiber? Moni Gupta, a genial 21-year-old artisan who specializes in hand-spinning, says simply, “Fiber is the main ingredient. Great rugs are possible because of great yarn.” Fortunately for us, great yarn is possible because of Moni.
As with all artisanal pursuits, a high degree of skill is achieved not simply through an innate gift, but also through hours upon hours of trials and tribulations; of errors and frustrations. Despite her current expertise, common mistakes marred Moni’s early days as a hand-spinner: over-spinning, losing her yarn end, and mistiming the treadles.
However, her hard work has paid off. Moni’s craft is now as natural as the caterpillar spinning its cocoon. It’s intuitive, effortless, and elegant; its pace rhythmic and hypnotic. Using only her hands, Moni slowly feeds the fiber onto the 'drive wheel' (which, in this case, is a homemade apparatus of local wood and nails; a symphony of applied knowledge and technique) while simultaneously controlling the movement with her feet; pressing the 'treadles' at the base in a fluid heel-to-toe motion.
“ If the loom is the canvas, and the weaver is the artist, what is the fiber?
Such mastery is only earned with years of repetition and tutelage. For the latter, Moni is blessed with the knowledge of the elder artisans in her village, who have been plying this craft for decades. As she acquires more experience, Moni will step into a mentorship role for the community's youth. An organic progression of quiet mastery, passed down from father to daughter, from generation to generation.
So then, in the art of rug making, fiber is the paint, but Moni? Moni is the paintbrush.