Shawls of Kashmir
The ancient Shawl of Kashmir appears in recorded history from 13th century as a wrap around the shoulders used by Royalty, Elite and connoisseurs.
Moughals immensely admired Kashmir shawls and encouraged it during 17th century until which time the weaving skill of shawl making had reached its zenith.
It is recorded history that the weaving skills of Artisans of the Valley of Kashmir have been acclaimed world over and it is this skill which makes a "Pashmina" Shawl
It appeared on International scene during the period of Napolean Bonapart when it became a status symbol.
Napolean gifted his wife Jozaffin many intricately woven and colourful shawls which till date are preserved in Museums.
The characteristics of a Kashmir Shawl are the fine wool used, weaving skills and colorfulness. Two centuries back the beautiful colours were imparted with vegetable dyes which were extracted from herbs, plants and fruits gifted by nature in abundance through scenic beauty of the Valley.
Another characteristic of Kashmir Shawl is the hand embroidery which is done to adorn the shawl and in earlier times the embroidery was done depending upon specific use and ranged from Haishyadaar ( a small row running along four sides) to Jammawar (embroidered allover).
The specimens of these ancient motif are preserved in International and domestic Museums.
Kashmir Shawls come in two varieties:
1). Super fine wool derived from sheep
2). Pashmina derived from domesticated animals, the Capra Hircus Goat, living at an altitude of 12,000-14,000 ft in Himalayas. At 16,000 ft, these animals are able to withstand absolute cold conditions and temperature drops to minus 50 degrees. Nature has thus bestowed upon this animal a special undercoat of wool which sustains it through horrid winters. This undercoat is sheared, scoured, shaved, spun and woven into beautiful fabric called “Kashmir Pashmina Shawl”