Pashmina shawls have long delighted women around the world for centuries together. From Emperor Napoleon’s wife Josephine, to queens and royals of the British royal family, the grace of Pashmina has made women all over the world swoon. It is even believed that Empress Josephine owned more than 60 of the Pashmina wraps (Kani Weave) and her admiration for the craft turned it into an item of high fashion across Europe. At the beginning of the 19th century, wealthy Europeans embraced Kashmiri shawl cloth with much enthusiasm as they began to know more about the laboursome process with which it is handmade in Kashmir. Renowned for its fleecy, warm and luxurious feel, the raw wool for pure Pashmina comes from an exotic breed of cashmere goats found in the Changthang region of Ladakh in Kashmir, in India’s far north. As soon as westerners discovered the same, the demand for Pashmina increased and Kashmiri artisans became a wealthy community in just days. Pashmina was and is special. Unlike wool, Pashmina is not sheared off the body of the animal, but brushed out with soft wooden combs. It is stored in the form of a dough of thin fibers which resembles candyfloss and then spun. Once only touched by the bear hands of artisans, Kashmiri Pashmina was worst hit in the early 2000's when wealthy traders began to produce Pashmina through machines. Even though machine were banned by the government, but traders managed doing so illegally. This cast a negative affect on the entire industry as machine Pashminas were less durable, cheap and easily available like any other wool stole. And the people who had to worst bear the brunt of machines and power loom were the artisan community. Artisans who worked with hands lost jobs, were considered inefficient, and faced indifference from government, customers and the profit centric middlemen alike. One of such artisans who lost everything to the machines and power looms is Ali Mohammed. Ali Mohammed is 58 years old and has been weaving Pashmina since he was 17. He has seen all ups and downs in the industry. "The first blow to us artisans was the ban on Shahtoos, and then the introduction of machines", he says while working on his loom. "Customers from foreign countries used to throng our shops, but now just a few patrons of handmade visit or buy. We have no value, we earn peanuts and I will personally never allow anyone now to do Pashmina work, because it will definitely decline. It is a hopeless case", says Ali Mohammed with a frown on his face.
Ali Mohammed And Pashmina.com
Ali Mohammed saw a ray of hope in Pashmina.com. With no middle men, no machine made shawls and no supply chains, Pashmina.com is able to pay artisans good compensation on time, who otherwise would have to wait for months together to receive payments. Moreover, its just handmade which is given preference here in our ethical model of online selling. Ali Mohammed sahab is sure that we will change the condition of Pashmina and take it back to the memorable days when the craft was at its zenith.
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