A Spinner at Norlha


Dolma Tso is one of Norlha’s top spinners. She began working eight years ago, and though most women who start off as spinners move on to other tasks, weaver, loader of finisher, Dolma Tso stuck to spinning. She lives with her sister and her family and never married. The village considers her a little slow minded, a woman who remained as a happy child speaking her mind and seeking to please those around her. When Norlha offered her a job, she took it very seriously; spinning is not an easy task and great dexterity and coordination are needed to spin a perfectly even thread. Dolma Tso spun on, persisting at the task until she reached the top; a speed and perfect evenness that earned her the reputation of consistency and reliability. She says she loves the way spinning soothes her mind, that it feels like a river flowing, continuous, dependable and never ceasing.

Though to the naked eye a Norlha spun thread may be difficult to tell apart from an industrial spun one, so even and perfect it is, it does have qualities that industrially made thread can hardly match. A handspun shawl or blanket has an organic feel that blends softness with a comforting feel of ruggedness, the latter one becomes conscious of only after several years, when the shawl not only retains its qualities, but matures like a good wine, retaining it pliability and smoothness without digressing into pilling.

Dolma Tso still lives with her sister, but can enjoy the comfort of a family while being a full-fledged member who contributes to the household income. This is a source of pride and achievement which brings her contentment and peace of mind.