What is Pashmina? This simple question has confounded many people. The answer to this question is actually quite straightforward. However, the myths surrounding the beautiful & pure Pashmina are so deeply ingrained that we find it difficult to not believe them. Hence we went on a journey to look for the truest facts and myths about Pashmina, and make it clear once and for all for the true patrons of the art.
Pashmina shawls, stoles, and scarves are made from the wool of Changthangi goats that they shed during the springtime. This fine outer layer of fur helps these goats survive temperatures below -40° C. Pure Pashmina shawls are handwoven and hand embroidered. Unfortunately, today the term Pashmina is labeled on all sorts of fabrics. Hence, the well-spun tale of myths needs to be dispelled.
Here are a few myths about Pashmina that need to be dispelled straight away:
Pashmina and Cashmere are different
Pashmina is referred to as the art of handcrafting luxury shawls, stoles, and accessories from fine Cashmere fibre, which is found growing as a down fibre on the body of the Changthangi goat. The goat naturally sheds its hair post-winter, as soon as Spring starts. The herders collect the same and send it forth for processing. It is this fine, smooth, and luxury Cashmere fibre that is handcrafted to make Pashmina shawls, Pashmina scarves, and other luxury accessories that women clamour for.
Also read: Are Pashmina and Cashmere the same?
Pashmina contributes to animal cruelty
The mere use of ‘pashm’ wool doesn’t indicate animal cruelty. Neither the goats are killed nor are they hurt during the process of obtaining the wool. The Changthangi goats naturally shed their wool which is collected by the locals who rear these goats for their milk. Goats rub their bodies against rough surfaces like bushes, rocks, and other harsh surfaces to get rid of the wool whose warmth makes them uneasy in Spring and summer. This wool is combed off their body by professionals, and in the process, no animal is harmed. Hence, Pashmina making is responsible, cruelty free and one of the most nature-friendly ways of handcrafting beautiful wraps and accessories for women to have in possession.
Pashmina and shahtoosh are the same
Pure Pashmina is made from the wool of the Changthangi goats. And Shahtoosh is made from the wool of the Tibetan Chiru antelopes. These antelopes are wild animals. Hence they are trapped and killed for their fine fleece. Shawls and stoles made from Shahtoosh are softer than their Pashmina counterparts. However, Shahtoosh is banned in many countries including India and the United States due to animal exploitation.
Pashmina shawls on the other hand are crafted in a responsible way and animals are not even harmed in the process, let alone being killed.
Also read: What animal is Pashmina wool from?
Pure Pashmina shawls are fluffy
Pure Pashmina shawls, stoles, and scarves do get softer even after years of use. But they do not become fluffy. There are several sellers of Pashmina shawls that using fabric softeners or brushing Pashmina shawls might make them look more fluffy, hence authentic, But these methods only reduce the life of the shawl by weakening the fabric. Pure Pashmina is soft, smooth, and has a gossamer fineness.
Pure Pashmina products are inexpensive
This confusion arises from the fact that Pashmina is not a registered fabric. Though Kashmiri Pashmina has a GI (Geographical Indication) registration, the term is used indiscriminately, causing confusion. The market is flooded with inexpensive Pashmina shawls. However, pure Pashmina shawls are handcrafted and are not machine-made. Kashmiri artisans have learned the art of weaving and embroidery through generations. As such they make pure Pashmina shawls with intricate designs that are hand-embroidered. As pure Pashmina shawls take months, and sometimes years, to be made, they are not inexpensive at all.
Water Pashmina is finer and more luxurious
The term water Pashmina is a hoax in itself. It is true that the finer the Cashmere fibre, the softer and warmer the Pashmina shawl will become. But the inventors of water Pashmina simply add shiny synthetic fibre into wool, making it thinner and shimmery, and call it Pashmina. Make sure as a patron of fine Pashmina art, you never believe someone who claims to sell water Pashmina as the purest form of handcrafted Cashmere.
Also read: 7 tests to identify genuine Pashmina