Folding Portable Spinning Wheel Used by Mahatma M. K. Gandhi

Summary

In response to a letter of good wishes from Henry Ford, Mahatma Gandhi sent this spinning wheel to the industrialist as a gift in December 1941. Gandhi used the spinning wheel as a symbol in his struggle for India's independence and economic self-sufficiency. Gandhi and Ford shared a mutual admiration for one another because of their long-standing commitments to peace.

In response to a letter of good wishes from Henry Ford, Mahatma Gandhi sent this spinning wheel to the industrialist as a gift in December 1941. Gandhi used the spinning wheel as a symbol in his struggle for India's independence and economic self-sufficiency. Gandhi and Ford shared a mutual admiration for one another because of their long-standing commitments to peace.

In the early decades of the 20th century, Mahatma M. K. Gandhi (1869-1948) used the spinning wheel, or charkha, as a unifying call-to-action in the nonviolent struggle against British colonial rule in India. The charkha was used in one form or another in nearly all parts of India to spin thread for making cloth before British imports had overwhelmed local production. The charkha, in the hands of Gandhi and other Indian nationalists, became a symbol for national unity; and the simple act of spinning an act of protest. The charkha proved a highly visible symbol for India's political independence and economic self-sufficiency.

Henry Ford was a great admirer of Gandhi's selfless life, self-reliant ideals and nonviolent principles. In July 1941, Henry Ford wrote a short note to Gandhi praising the "lofty work" of the Indian leader. Gandhi returned the compliment and sent a spinning wheel that he had used to the famed industrialist. Gandhi signed the gift in both English and Hindi. Mr. T. A. Raman, London editor of the United Press of India, couriered the portable spinning wheel to America and presented it to Henry Ford in December 1942.

Detailed Description
Artifact

Spinning wheel

Subject Date

1942

Creators

Unknown

Place of Creation

India 

Location

Not on exhibit to the public.

Object ID

42.142.1

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Mahatma K. Gandhi.

Material

Wood (Plant material)

Dimensions

Height: 4 in

Width: 10 in

Length: 17 in

Inscriptions

Signed in Hindi and English: Mahatma M. K. Gandhi [autograph]

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