Owning a cashmere scarf has always been considered a matter of pride, ever since it was first patronized by the European nobility. Opulence, luxury, and quality make Cashmere scarves stand out. They’ve balanced comfort and warmth with decadence and style. As they say, you can never go wrong with a Pashmina; it is truly a timeless piece that has a rich legacy of over 500 years.
Cashmere scarves are found across the globe both machine-made and handmade. While we might get allured to the low prices of fake, machine-made ones, it's just handmade scarves that are original, and worth buying.
At Pashmina.com, we offer exquisite collections of handcrafted, authentic Cashmere scarves made from the finest and purest Cashmere from Ladakh. Each scarf and wrap from our collection is handwoven, and hand-embroidered artistically into Pashmina by the gifted community of Kashmiri artisans.
Despite much having been written about this ultimate luxury accessory, there are certain facts that you must know.
Fact 1 | Napoleon was the first to introduce Cashmere scarves to Europe
Here’s a slice of history surrounding Cashmere. Locals in Tibet, Nepal, and Persia first used Cashmere to protect themselves from the cold. These mountain goats were valued for their thick coats, which was a result of the sub-zero temperatures. In fact, collecting this underbelly fur of these Pashmina goats was an important ritual for the locals, especially in remote areas.
For centuries, Cashmere was known as ‘Pashmina”, derived from the Persian word ‘pashm” meaning wool, and its origin dates to the 3rd century BC. It was only in the 15th century that Zayn-ul-Abidin, then leader of the Kashmiri region, introduced weavers from Central Asia.
The term ‘Cashmere' came about sometime in the 16th century when it was colloquially used to refer to the shawls spun by Kashmiri craftsmen on the Silk Route. But Cashmere’s popularity amongst the European upper classes came to the forefront, thanks to Empress Josephine, wife to Napolean Bonaparte. It soon became the most coveted status symbol of the day and has arguably maintained its reputation ever since.
After some years a confusion arose among the masses as to what was the difference between Cashmere and Pashmina. But now it is clear that Pashmina is the art of handcrafting fine Cashmere to produce luxury shawls, wraps, scarves, and accessories.
Fact 2 | One Cashmere scarf = fleece from 2-3 goats
Another reason why cashmere is so special is because of the nature of its fibre. It is said that the diameter of a piece of cashmere yarn is under 19 microns, which is an interesting 1/10th the diameter of human hair. Since cashmere is one of the finest grades, it is only about 12-14 microns thick.
One can’t even visualize the volume of yarn that goes into making a scarf or a shawl and how labor-intensive it is. As unbelievable as it may sound, it takes the wool of 2-3 Pashmina goats to make a single scarf. Let’s say, if you were to comb off the wool off one Cashmere goat, it would take several years to collect enough hair for a single product.
However, once you weave this ultra-fine yarn, it exudes warmth like no other. Here’s an interesting fact: The Cashmere fibre is eight times warmer than sheep wool.
Also read: What Animal is Pashmina Wool from?
Fact 3 | The prized goats of Kashmir
The Pashmina goats from which the soft undercoats are procured are no ordinary goats. They have long curling horns and grow shaggy coats of hair. In the chilly winters, it is replaced by a fine, dense, downy undercoat that also acts as a protective layer. During spring, their undercoat is combed by herders, or else these goats themselves shed it. There is a misconception that this coat grows only in their underbelly, which isn’t the case. It grows all over their body.
Interestingly, Pashmina goats that live in the highest altitudes of the Himalayas in Ladakh can survive in the harshest of winters, hottest of summers, and spells of drought. They can get by with little water and live on the coarsest of grass.
Fact 4 | No itchiness, no allergy
Though much like sheep’s wool, the Cashmere fibre is much warmer and does not cause any itching on your body. It has no lanolin and can be processed at even low temperatures. This also makes it a preferred product for babies, since it makes the child comfortable just like he/she was in the mother’s womb.
Besides, Cashmere absorbs and releases water vapour with humidity, which is why it works well as a natural insulator. Plus, as we discussed earlier, it keeps you eight times warmer than ordinary wool.
Also read: Why do babies love Cashmere blankets?
Fact 5 | Not all Cashmere scarves are equal
Have you come across a situation, where you’ve bought a product and seen it pill the very next day? Fake and blended Cashmere accessories generally flood fashion racks today, which is more of a trap. When you are paying for 100% cashmere, it is only right that you get 100% Cashmere. And if it’s pure, it can’t be cheap.
Also read: 7 Tests to Identify Genuine Pashmina