How much is a Pashmina worth?
Pashmina scarves are exceptionally warm, soft, and timelessly elegant winter wraps that are handcrafted to keep an individual warm and stylish in colder seasons (fall and winter primarily). These scarves are made from a natural fibre Cashmere, which is acquired from the undercoat of Ladakhi goat. Cashmere has some features which are rare to find and which makes it revered all over the world. Perhaps that is the reason why it was and still is revered in almost all parts of the world.
Pashmina scarves have enjoyed royal patronage since the 16th century when they were discovered for the first time. It was Empress Josephine, who wore a Pashmina scarf for the first time, and made it a timeless fashion accessory. Ever since Europeans are fascinated by the sheer grace and gossamer finesse of Pashmina, and still want to own at least one piece of it. And even though many nations around the world offer Cashmere, but it is Kashmir, the Cashmere of where remains the most enshrined and treasured of all
Here are some amazing qualities of a Pashmina scarf, for which it is cherished by every admirer of traditional art.
Pashmina scarves - made from exceptionally warm Cashmere
The Ladakhi goat is found in Ladakh, in a region called Changthang. This region is situated 14000 feet above sea level and experiences harsh weather conditions. It grows Cashmere as a down fibre, which is extra smooth and warm, and this downy fleece helps the goat to withstand a temperature of- 40 degrees. It is the exceptional warmth of this fibre that makes this possible. Hence the fibre is considered special, as it is feathery light, yet so warm that it survives the animal at the harshest of temperatures.
Pashmina scarves are totally handmade
The raw wool is spun on a wooden charkha or spinning wheel, which converts wool to long yarns. These yarns are then handwoven to the fabric. Hence, every procedure which the raw fibre goes through is carried out by hand. There is no intervention of machines, and the entire process is manual.
As many as a hundred families are associated with just one Pashmina scarf. Starting from the acquisition of raw Cashmere, to spinning, weaving, embroidery, ironing, packaging, every single practice is done by labour, from a different family.
Cashmere yarn is extremely fine
The diameter of a Cashmere yarn is 12-16 microns only. That is around one-fourth of a human hair. Please note that human hair is 50 microns. Such finesse in the yarn is unmatched, and that too when it is manually done. Sometimes the yarn is not visible to the naked eye. It is just the masterly skilled and decades of experience of the womenfolk of Kashmir, which help them spin such yarn with ease and perfection.
Pashmina is a family affair
As many as 50 families and a few hundred individuals are associated with just one Pashmina scarf, which makes it more valued. Pashmina weaving and spinning is not a job for people here in Kashmir. It is an act of worship, which these people do to save the art from extinction. It is pure reverence and emotions attached to the art of Pashmina, which makes people want to be associated with it.
In the past, when the Kashmiri economy went too low, and people began to suffer, it was this art of Pashmina which survived them. Thousands of families and individuals took Pashmina making as a job and earned well when it began to be exported to Europe. Hence the makers are still attached to the art, as they remember the times when Pashmina was the only source to keep their family affairs going.
Embroidery takes years and years
If a Pashmina scarf is embroidered at all, then it might take a few years to complete one piece. It again depends on the embroidery pattern. If the shawl has to be fully embroidered, then it might take three years. But if patterns are lighter, then a year or two are enough. The embroidery is again done by hand with the finest threads and needles. Artisans have pockmarks all over their hands, as they have been doing it for decades together.
Kani weave is a weaving pattern in Pashmina, and Kani shawls are well known all over the world. Kani shawls look embroidered, but it is the colourful weaving patterns that make them look so. The meticulousness of a Kani shawl is such that a Kani jamawar shawl takes five years to be completed.
Cashmere from a few goats makes just one scarf
It takes the fibre from 2 goats to complete one Pashmina scarf. And since the goat is difficult to find and is extremely rare, the value of a scarf might seem exorbitant. But when one looks at the labour that goes into making the scarf, the value seems perfect.
As much as the size of a Pashmina increase, it takes more wool to complete. Large Pashmina shawls from women need wool from three goats. Larger shawls from men or apparel made in Cashmere would need wool from five to six goats to complete
One Artisan for One Scarf
If an artisan, working on a full embroidery shawl passes away, it either takes a lot of time for other artisans to understand the same. Or the shawl remains incomplete forever. There have been a large number of instances when incomplete shawls have been found in some artisans’ places, and when asked about the same, they narrate the ordeal of their father or grandfather passing away in the middle of the work. Hence one Pashmina scarf can be considered as an exclusive product of imagination, that only belongs to one individual, in this case, its embroidery artisan.
Price of a Pashmina scarf
Is not just more or less embroidery or motifs that decide the price of a Pashmina scarf. The price of a Pashmina scarf depends upon a number of factors that usually sellers, as well as buyers, ignore, and later wonder why the scarf is expensive. Some of the factors which decide the price of a Pashmina scarf are:
Ply indicates the density of fibre used. A single-ply Pashmina scarf would mean that basic thread is used in its single form. Double-ply or two-ply would indicate that fibre is double twisted. Two-ply is more pricey, as it gives more strength to the scarf made. A single-ply scarf would be more delicate.
Yarn count is a number indicating the meters of yarn that can be spun per gram. The more yarn count the thinner, the smoother and more precious is the scarf. Hence 100 count Pashmina scarf would mean that one gram of the shawl 100 meters of the yarn, and hence the fibre would be more delicate. This type of Pashmina would be more expensive, as the finer the fibre is, the more painstakingly it is made.
The thickness of the fibre
How thick the fibre also determines the price of Pashmina scarves. The finer the fibre used, the more pricey the scarf becomes. Also, surprisingly, it is said that the finer the fibre, the warmer the shawl is.
Weave patterns also determine the price of Pashmina scarves. The diamond weave is the most expensive type of scarves in Pashmina. These are followed by twill weave and basket weave. Jacquard weave is also one major type that is usually worn to weddings or special occasions. Again a tighter weave will be more pricey than a loose one
Fake Pashmina Scarves
As soon as Pashmina got immense fame and recognition all over the world, a few deceitful traders started to produce fake scarves or crafted Pashmina over machines. In both cases, the originality is lost. If Pashmina is mixed with a nylon or silk thread, it loses purity as well as worth. The same is the case when processed over powerlooms. Power looms may be a lot more efficient and faster than handlooms, but handwoven Cashmere is what the art of Pashmina is all about.
Also read: 7 Tests to Identify Genuine Pashmina
Worth of a Pashmina scarf
A pure Pashmina scarf, on average, will be worth US$120 - 300 (dimension is 200 cm x 35cm). It also depends on purity. This was the price of a 100% pure scarf and not an amalgam of silk or nylon. Unfortunately, many deceptive sellers have hiked prices but sell fake scarves. It is important to ask the seller for a certificate of authenticity. If he is not able to produce one, then he might be a fraud. Nevertheless, plain scarves will range from $120 to $150. If the scarf is patterned, printed, or laced, it will rise in price. Embroidered scarves might even be priced at $300.
It is crucial to check the purity of a Pashmina scarf while buying it. Only pure Pashmina scarves deserve expensive tags because it is them which have been handcrafted laboriously by proficient artisans who work for years together to craft every exclusive piece. Buying a Pashmina is an investment, and should not be wasted to purchase a fake scarf
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