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    ARTICLE

    Chutka Blanket (blankets)

    Map Academy

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    Chutka is a traditional blanket made by the Bhotias of Uttarakhand, who are nomadic pastoralists of Tibetan origin. Made from the wool of local sheep, it is a heavy cut-pile shaggy blanket that offers protection against the cold winters of the region. Most Chutka blankets have a plain background without any motifs and weigh between 3–4 kilograms. They are woven for both personal use and for sale in local markets, cooperative or khadi centres, and annual village fairs.

    The Bhotia community includes the Shaukas of Kumaon as well as the Tolchhas and Marchhas of Garhwal, and the Chutka is woven differently in the two regions. The weavers in Garhwal use vertical looms, while the Shaukas – who once led a semi-nomadic lifestyle and used backstrap looms – weave their blankets on horizontal treadle looms.

    To make a Chutka blanket, the locally-sourced wool is first cleaned using a natural cleansing agent made of a wild fruit called pangar. It is then handspun on a charkha, dyed and woven using a looping technique. Earlier, natural colours extracted from tree bark and fruits were used to dye the Chutka, but these have largely been replaced by ready-made industrial dyes.

    The Bhotias also produce other wool-based handicrafts such as pankhi (woollen shawls), thulma , dann (carpets) and asan (prayer mats).

     
    Bibliography

    Hoon, Vinita. Living on the move: Bhotiyas of the Kumaon Himalaya. Sage Publications, 1996.

    Amrita Laha, Anindita Debnath, Ajay Srivastav, Gautam Talukdar. The Story of Woollen Cottage Industry in Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand. 2020. Doi 10.13140/RG.2.2.16929.97120

    Ranjan, Aditi and M.P. Ranjan. Handmade in India: Geographic Encyclopaedia of Indian Handicrafts. New York: Abbeville Press, 2009.

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