In the realm of wrap accessories, Kashmiri shawls are without a doubt among the most revered and valuable. These are produced in Kashmir Valley, North India, by a community of highly talented artisans with decades of expertise. Shahtoosh and Pashmina shawls, which are well-known worldwide, are the two main varieties of shawls made by artisans in Kashmir. In addition to these, sheep wool can also be used to create Kashmiri shawls, which are then decorated with exquisite regional embroidery patterns. Since the time of their creation several centuries ago, Pashmina and Shahtoosh shawls have become popular all over the world, and Europeans are unable to resist the need to export them in significant numbers.

How are shawls from Kashmir made?

Any material can be used to create Kashmiri shawls, but they must be manufactured in a certain way and using a special weaving technique. But the shawls differ according on the materials utilised, the time required, and the labor put out.

The most popular Kashmiri shawls are Pashmina shawls, which are known throughout the world for their traditional designs, light weight, and luxurious feel. These are constructed of the finest cashmere wool available, which is sourced from the Ladakh region. It develops as a down fibre to the Himalayan Capra hircus. Shahtoosh is prohibited, and sheep wool shawls are not particularly cherished, hence the terms Kashmiri and Pashmina shawls are often used interchangeably.

Capra hircus goat in Ladakh region of Himalayas

Hundreds of artisan families spend a year or a few months manually creating Kashmiri shawls (also known as Pashmina shawls). While one procedure in the household is handled by the ladies, the men take on the tasks that need greater physical labor. Because numerous family members work together to create a single pashmina shawl, craftsmen refer to it as the product of love, care, and numerous emotions rather than just the fibre.

Making of Kashmiri shawls

Pashmina shawls are what we refer to when we discuss Kashmiri shawls. This is due to the fact that these shawls are what inspired admirers of art all over the world to become enthusiastic and excited. The other Kashmiri shawls are raffal shawls, which aren’t as highly regarded as Pashmina in terms of quality, and shahtoosh, which is prohibited. Shahtoosh is made from the Tibetan antelope’s hair, which is tragically killed so that its wool can be harvested. Goats that produce pashmina, on the other hand, are domesticated animals and do not need to be coerced into giving away their products. Consequently, the topic of this blog will be Pashmina.

High-quality, fine animal hair that grows as a down fibre on a Ladakhi goat is used to make pashmina shawls. The goat lives in Changthang, Ladakh, and in the winter it grows fine hair to protect itself from the subfreezing temperatures there. However, as soon as Spring arrives, the goat sheds this hair, which its herders collect. For processing, it is packaged and sent to Kashmir.

Processing in Kashmir

The wool is cleaned and sorted in Kashmir based on its quality. In essence, Pashmina shawls are made from only the finest Cashmere threads. Following cleaning, these are spun over a wooden spinning wheel, requiring the spinner to pay particular attention. The women of the valley are those who spin the threads in perfect time with the fibre and their hands. Since the yarn is flimsy, extremely delicate, and gossamer thin, even a small error could result in it breaking.

Artisan weaving cashmere into Pashmina on handloom

Types of Kashmiri Pashmina Shawls

On the basis of what ornamentation it features, Kashmiri Pashmina shawls are of the following types.

Solid Pashmina Shawls

Solid shawls are plain with no ornamentation. Post weaving, these are sent for finishing, where their fringes are cut, and foreign material is cut or removed might have gotten attached to the handloom, washed, and ironed properly. These are then packed and sent for sale.

Printed & Patterned Pashmina Shawls

Solid shawls are plain with no ornamentation. Post weaving, these are sent for finishing, where their fringes are cut, and foreign material is cut or removed might have gotten attached to the handloom, washed, and ironed properly. These are then packed and sent for sale.

Embroidered Pashmina Shawls

When it comes to Kashmiri goods, embroidered shawls are the most well-known. Only hand needlework is able to withstand the fineness and fragility of these shawls.

The Kashmiri Pashmina shawls are mostly embroidered by hand using three different styles. Pashmina shawls are adorned with exquisite embroidery such as Sozni Kari, Tilla Dozi, and Papier Mache Embroidery. They are hence quite comfortable to wear and enticing to the eyes.

Kani Pashmina Shawls

The most well-known Kani shawls worldwide are those from Kashmir. These are the most difficult and detailed items to make, and it takes years to finish them. Empress Josephine of France was impressed by the Kashmiri Kani shawl and purchased several hundred of them. This caused these shawls to gain even more popularity and become the most fashionable accessory.

Reversible Pashmina Shawls

Shawls that can be reversed are nothing short of magical. These works of art are wearable on both sides and have the same appearance from the front and rear. Some craftsmen go one step farther and paint both sides with contrasting colours.

The embroidered reversible shawl is a more opulent and opulent variation of the plain reversible shawl. The needlework in this shawl is well-done on both sides. The owner receives two shawls in one because there is no back portion of these shawls that needs to be concealed.

When it comes to opulent accessories, Kashmiri Pashmina shawls are undisputed leaders in the globe. Any version of these shawls looks regal and luxurious in its own special manner. The touch, feel, and sight of this leave individuals who wear it for the first time completely in awe.

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