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Kashmiri Shawl - A Perfect Winter Gift

November 8th, 2022 | 455 views
Kashmiri Shawl - A Perfect Winter Gift

If there is a single commodity that represents Kashmir the way it should be, it is the Kashmiri shawl. A much-coveted winter accessory, the Kashmiri shawl has represented its hometown for centuries. The fine texture, the pleasant warmth, the breathtaking designs, and the way it drapes around; every feature of this treasure has been celebrated throughout history. Ever since the trade of Kashmiri shawls started, it was large nations of Europe and America that showed their interest. All they wanted was to own this local asset. Later these shawls became more than just a famous commodity. Now, these shawls were a prized item, and political entities often used them as royal gifts for each other..

Moreover, Kashmiri shawls grew in fame when they became the most significant part of a bride’s trousseau. Additionally, they were a status symbol for women and the true representation of their land. The shawls exhibited to the world how skillful their makers are. These luxury pieces brought glory to their name and work from every corner of the world. 

Origin of Kashmiri Shawls

It all started in the 15th century. As mentioned in the Persian history of Kashmir, a Sufi saint visited this valley. Even though it was a visit meant for religious purposes, the visit was fruitful for the economy. Mir Sayyid Ali Hamdani came to spread Islam, but on his travel to Ladakh discovered a fine wool. Mir introduced a portion of this wool in Kashmir in the early 15th century. In fact, later it was him who convinced the king Zain ul Abideen to set up units for the processing of Cashmere. The king agreed, and that is how Kashmiri shawls came into existence. 


Processing shawls from fine wool

A Muslim shawl-making family shown in Cashmere shawl manufactory, 1867, chromolith., William Simpson.
A Muslim shawl-making family shown in Cashmere shawl manufactory, 1867, chromolith., William Simpson.

Kashmiri shawls became the perfect symbol of elegance and high fashion. These were now timeless assets and people since the 15th century knew that these shawls came to stay. As far as reality was concerned, Kashmiri shawls actually represented society. In this society, men and women came together to help in the completion of this new product form that had just come into existence. Kashmiri shawls had deep connections with the political economy of the valley. These played a huge role as far as the nation's relations with other countries were concerned.

Artisans from all realms came together to bring into existence these shawls. These resulted from an intricate and labyrinthine process of manufacturing these. Be it spinners, weavers, embroidery artisans, washers, dyers, or sellers; all craftsmen formed groups to manufacture these new sources of income. Hence Kashmiri shawls were available not only for the locals but to send across continents. The artisans became wealthy. Governments became wealthier since they gained huge amounts from the annual profits that were amassed by sales. At this time, Kashmiri artisans were one of the most revered and famous individuals worldwide. 

Transformation of the Kashmiri Shawl

As fashion changed, and every nation had its own choice of colours, designs, and motifs, so did the Kashmiri shawl. This exquisite article too preferred to adapt to different markets lest it lost its value in the market. Depending upon the market, the shawl changed designs, sizes, motif types, colours, or whatever the local market demanded. Local Kashmiri markets used to be abuzz with buyers from all over the world. All competed against each other for the ownership of the finest quality shawls.

This competition rose so much that a few nations decided to copy the local designs. That, because the competitors couldn't afford to visit the valley every year in search of the perfect piece. Also, Kashmiri shawls were not affordable by the middle class, and these imitations were cheap; hence affordable for them too. The towns of Norwich and Paisley were the main centers for selling imitation shawls. Amritsar and Jalandhar in India, too, sold copies of the Kashmiri shawls. Pashmina stoles were sold in these places, which were actually fake copies of the true art. 


Kashmiri Shawls - A Perfect Winter Gift

pashmina shawl
Accord of Love Pashmina Shawl is an accord of paisleys, chinars, and heart motifs

Kashmiri shawls are used synonymously with Pashmina shawls in the present times. One can use any of the two terms. Today Kashmiri shawls can be found embodying all the patterns in the world. In ancient times, Pashmina shawls would be either plain, embroidered, or Kani woven. But today we have every type of modern print and pattern. The luxury shawls carry these contemporary styles flawlessly. Apart from the timelessness of embroidered or Kani shawls, modern designs make these luxury accessories popular among young women and even teenage girls. For casual days, women prefer animal prints, striped, and check shawls. For weddings and formal occasions, embroidered, Kani woven or Laced Shawls are the most sought. 

The versatility of Kashmiri shawls and their nature to adapt to all designs and patterns have made them a favourite for all occasions; all age groups. Kashmiri shawls also suit all temperaments. Hence we have shawls for the lovers of minimalistic fashion, as well as for the admirers of extravagance. This makes Kashmiri shawls a perfect winter gift as they are warm, versatile, timeless, and ever-stylish.


The concept of Sustainability

The first reason why we fell in love with Kashmiri shawls was their timelessness. A shawl, when carefully taken care of, lasts for over 30 years. This made us think about the present world buzzword ‘sustainable fashion, and Kashmiri shawls totally adhered to it. 

Cashmere wool, which is processed into Kashmiri shawls, is acquired manually from Ladakh. There is no occurrence of animal cruelty in the entire process of the acquisition of Cashmere. Post this, the shawl is spun and woven. Both these processes are carried out manually, without the use of machines or power looms. Hence no pollution is associated with the entire process. 

The artisans of Kashmiri shawls are usually men from underprivileged societies and widowed women. As such, this industry empowers individuals and encourages them to stand financially independent. As many as a hundred artisans are associated with one single shawl. This is proof enough that their households are fully dependent on this art form. Hence, a responsible buy like this will be an ideal gift in the present world. This is because fortunately now we have thinkers and responsible shoppers; they would love to have a shawl not just beautiful and timeless, but safe for the planet and its people. 


We, Pashmina.com, are the largest curators of pure and handcrafted Pashmina products in the online space. We are on a mission to revive this dying art by spreading our wings throughout the world by way of our online platform. Our website serves as a window to our range of products that are luxurious and have the highest quality. We offer the widest range, certified quality, luxurious packaging and free shipping to over 150 countries.

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