Heirloom Cotton

We here at BeWeave It Headquarters love all things heirloom: family heirlooms, heirloom tomatoes (especially Cherokee purples), and heirloom fibers. Our newest old obsession is Kala cotton, an ancient and rare variety of cotton indigenous to the Kutch region of India.

What makes Kala so interesting is how hardy it is and how easy it is to grow. First, it can be grown without irrigation even in the hot Kutch climate. The Kala cotton has the deepest roots of any cultivated cotton, which means it can survive in times of drought and in high winds. It’s also resistant to pests, harmful bacteria, and high levels of soil salinity.

Kala cotton is grown without pesticides (as they’re not needed) and also without synthetic fertilizers, as the natural traditional fertilizers are all the Kala needs to thrive. This means Kala farmers can invest minimal money into the crop and it will grow. For this reason it is described by the farmers as being Ram Mol which roughly translates to mean that the crop comes from God.

While Kala has many positive attributes, it is harder to process than most varieties due to the tough shell covering the boll and the short-staple length. For a time it seemed as if the Kala might become extinct, especially after the introduction of genetically modified Bt cotton. Fortunately, Kala is starting to make a comeback of sorts. The organization Khamir is currently working with local weavers and international artists to create markets for handwoven Kala cloth.

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