The tabletop or floor charkha is one of the oldest known forms of the spinning wheel. The charkha works similarly to the great wheel, with a drive wheel being turned by hand, while the yarn is spun off the tip of the spindle. The floor charkha and the great wheel closely resemble each other. With both, the spinning must stop in order to wind the yarn onto the spindle.
The charkha was both a tool and a symbol of the Indian independence movement. The charkha, a small, portable, hand-cranked wheel, is ideal for spinning cotton and other fine, short-staple fibers, though it can be used to spin other fibers as well. The size varies, from that of a hardbound novel to the size of a briefcase, to a floor charkha. Mahatma Gandhi brought the charkha into larger use with his teachings. He hoped the charkha would assist the peoples of India achieve self-sufficiency and independence, and so used the charkha as a symbol of the Indian independence movement and included it on earlier versions of the Flag of India