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Ply-split braiding has been found extensively in Rajasthan and Gujarat, North West India, where it has been used to make camel girths and animal regalia. Perhaps the simplest form of textile structure found within the subcontinent is that of the split ply camel girths of Rajasthan. Worked by hand without a loom, these girths are simple, decorative and useful. The technique is also used to make camel necklaces and pot carriers. The days of the absence of automobile life was dramatic in Thar Desert region of western Rajasthan and would have been insupportable without the domesticated camel. The whole of the Thar Desert is the home to thousands of these animals and they are used to pull carts, to draw water from wells, to plough the sandy fields, and as riding mounts and pack animals. Vivamus magna orci, tincidunt scelerisque, sagittis commodo, ultrices sed, nulla. Phasellus dui lectus, molestie qui s, molestie sed, tempus eu, nunc. Vestibulum velit mi, vulputate
These girths are sometimes made up of cotton cord but more usually out of goat hair, using a unique technique. The villager takes a bundle of specially prepared goat hair (either black or white) and with a simple spindle spin out the yarn. The yarn is doubled to make it two-ply. Four-ply yarn is required-for girth making, of which each ply is two-ply, and taking a length of two-ply yarn, folding it in four and then twisting it into a four-ply cord makes it strong.
The four-ply yarn may be either black or white, although one method of split-ply girth-making requires four-ply that is half black and half white, in which case two white two-plys are plied with two black two-plys. In every case, the final four-ply yarn is twisted very tightly, as it will need to be much manipulated, twisted and untwisted. After twisting, the four-ply yarn is soaked in water and then stretched out in the sun to dry. This removes any kinks, opens up and thickens out the yarn, and sets the over twist.
The dry four ply yarn is spooled on a spindle and the cords of one of the cords is split open with the eye end of a large wooden needle and untwisted to a quarter of a turn";" the next cord is threaded through the eye and is pulled back through the first strand. The process is done along the row, and worked down, row by row, where each individual cord reaches down and across the newly created fabric on a diagonal line ending on the selvedge, finally creating a zigzag pattern. There are standard variations in pattern which could either be monochrome, chequered or a pattern in horizontal waves.
The traditional girths are made from goat hair yarn or sometimes cotton. Contemporary braid makers use a variety of yarns including, linen, hemp, silk, paper, or rayon, often using a four-hook cordwinder to make the cords. Having made the cords, the ply-splitting process is very portable. A gripfid is frequently used for splitting the cords and drawing a cord through the plies of one or more cords. Being an ‘off loom’ technique, shapes may be made and combined to make more complex designs with the potential for making pieces from fine neckpieces, bracelets etc, through to larger vessels and sculptural works.
Ply-spltting is used as a way of splicing ropes,it is also the technical basis of a whole range of fabrics chiefly made in Northwest India as accoutrements for camels, but now gaining great popuarity as a craft in its own right. Just as threads in weaving are held together by interlacing them, and in knitting by interlooping them, so in ply-splitting fabrics they are held together by one thread splitting and going right through another.
This leads to fabrics of great strength (necessary in a camel girth) but with the potential for designs of incredible beauty and endless complexity. As with types of tablet weaving you can write words, reproduce any motif, and all with no equipment except a latchet hook. No stretching of warp, no beating up of weft, so it is utterly portable...makers in Rajasthan do it as they walk about herding camels.
Khuri, a small Rajasthani desert village near Jaisalmer is another major center of girth production. Many of the motifs are specific to a particular village, and that they are meant to symbolise a variety of experiences associated with the rituals of life and death.