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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

Mahatma Gandhi's prison 'Charkha' up for auction at Mullock's

The stockpile of Mahatma Gandhi memorabilia in the UK is a seemingly bottomless pit with a never-ending stream of items - from a clutch of grass smattered with Gandhi's blood to his reading glasses - have come up for auction over the past 36 months.

The latest item is one of the Mahatam's most prized possessions; the 'Charkha', or spinning wheel, he used during one of his spells at the Yerwada Jail near Pune, Maharashtra.

The Charkha, which has a reserve of £60,000, is part of an auction of more than 60 Gandhi-related items by Mullocks Auctioneers in Shropshire, West Midlands.

The item is said to have been handed over to the American Free Methodist missionary Rev Floyd A Puffer, a pioneer in Indian educational and industrial cooperatives; among his innovations was a bamboo plough that was later adopted by Gandhi.

Mullock’s spokesman Richard Westwood Brookes told the Press Trust of India: “This would have been one of Gandhi’s most prized possessions as he devised the workings of it himself. The charkha was used by him in Yerwada Jail whilst fighting for the rights and independence of India. It has impeccable provenance and is unquestionably the most important Gandhi artefact we have ever had for sale.”

The Charkha was one of the most potent symbols used by Gandhi in his non-violent campaign for independence.  He encouraged Indians to use the device to spin and weave their own cloth in a bid to counter the British practice of transporting cotton grown in India to Britain where it was processed and shipped back to the subcontinent to be sold at a hefty premium.

When traditional spinning wheels proved too cumbersome to transport, Gandhi devised a simpler, more portable Charkha with a folding wheel and a handle for carrying.

Gandhi often mentioned that his daily spinning was a form of meditation.

Other highlights at the 5 November auction include a 19th Century painting depicting Tipu Sultan as well as a rare miniature Koran printed for Muslim soldiers who fought alongside allied forces in the First World War.

- With inputs from Agencies

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