Kashmiri Pashmina artisans were once a rich and prosperous people with a thriving independent economy. And why not so! Accompanied with 700 followers, a Sufi saint, Mir Syed Ali Hamdani (RA) from Persia descended to the land of Kashmir and shaped and changed Kashmir forever. Be it the social setup of the valley or the economic condition, the saint was able to make things better for this suppressed nation. Among the 700 followers who accompanied Mir Syed Ali Hamdani to Kashmir, were masters of arts and crafts who flourished in the valley. They popularized Pashmina Making amongst other crafts like Carpet Making, Paper Mache and more. The skills and know-how they brought to Kashmir gave rise to Pashmina industry which is world-famous even now. It was this saint who is still held responsible for giving Kashmir an economic boost and self sufficiency, and is revered and respected. Kashmir enjoyed a prosperous time and saw an emergence of local artisans and craftsmen who became masters in Pashmina spinning, weaving and embroidery. But today the same craft of Pashmina making which made Kashmir famous all over the world, is in shambles. The craft is dying out in the face of cheap and fake copies of Pashmina shawls due to emergence of power looms. Pashmina material is very fragile and delicate which cannot bear the strain of a machine. Hence traders mix nylon or other stronger fibers with Pashmina fibers so that it can be processed by the power loom. What comes out is a fabric with some percentage of Pashmina and more of foreign material. And what more. Artisans, who produced shawls with their hands are left maltreated and destitute. Among such artisan is Mushtaq Ahmed, a 65 year old artisan, who used to handweave shawls along with his father and grandfather. It wa an inherited art which the family was proud to be associate with. But once power loom was introduced, Mushtaq and his family suffered a lot. "My grandfather passed away, then me and my father had to continue. Then came the machines and ruined us of all we had saved. Our new generation is not interested in doing this job because they know Pashmina is dying. We do not want Pashmina to die. It has been brought by a revered saint here. How can it die", says Mushtaq from behind his handloom which has now become as old as time itself.
Mushtaq and Pashmina.com
Mushtaq is one of our oldest hand weavers who weaves shawls as well as trains young generation of weavers. He knows about the market and hence it is him who decides whereto produce raw material from, which needle to use (for embroiderers), and other specifications. Mushtaq wants the world to realize the serious threat that power looms pose. He wants us to make customers well informed about the beauty and originality of pure and handmade Pashmina which is the real Pashmina which the nobles, kings and queens of the western world swooned over once.