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Women's Pashmina - Types of Pashmina Shawls

March 8th, 2021 | 3 views
Women's Pashmina - Types of Pashmina Shawls

In an attempt to know about the world-famous Pashmina, we went straight to paradise to see for ourselves. We found a thousand patterns of Womens Pashmina and chose to discover each of them individually

Gushing water down mighty mountains makes the sound of life sprouting here, in this valley, where the snow had clothed every single bit of nature for 4 long months. Kashmir - the paradise on earth - is home to so many pristine destinations of natural beauty. From heavenly landscapes, snow-covered mountain ranges, glacier-fed water bodies to lush saffron fields, orchards of juicy apples, Mughal gardens or the world-famous Dal lake bejewelled with its shikaras. On the other hand, there is something which makes this place more special and worth visiting often. It is the art and craft corresponding realm of the society whose hub is the downtown area, that is what fascinated us the most.

Downtown, also known as Sheher E Khaas, is located centrally in Srinagar. Here fashion fads are yet to fully dissolve the century-old cultural flavours. It is a place where narrow lanes take you to matchbox-sized shops, traditional craft shops, mesmerizing ancient architecture, and warm and generous people. Amongst the people, a section of this society is the artisan community. Highly skilled artisans associated with making shawls, paper mache, copperware, silverware, and our favorite traditional embroideries.

These artisans have immense expertise in the work they do. All of the work is done manually, without any use of machines and tertiary help. Although all of the crafts are mesmerizing, we found the most enthralling one was the art of Pashmina, its making. So we went deeper into the same.

Kashmiri Shawls and Fabrics

Kashmiri shawls are of various qualities and prices. There are three main fibres from which Kashmiri shawls are made. The most expensive one is Shahtoosh the ‘ring shawl’, which is not available now, since its global ban in 1975.

The second most beautiful and prized Kashmiri shawl is the Pashmina - known for its softness and warmth. The third and the least expensive is pure wool shawls called Raffal which has different counts.

Thus the most popular and the crown of the Kashmiri shawls are what is referred to as the world-famous Pashmina shawls for their elegance and coziness. That's what took us to our favourite artisan’s home, where he introduced us to all patterns done on Pashmina.

While patterning Pashmina, it is to be kept in mind that the pattern is done carefully. Full attention is to be given to the base fabric. Pashmina is delicate & fragile & one strong embroidery stroke, one harsh dyeing method, one rough weave pull might harm the fabric. Hence the patterns chosen to adorn a plain Pashmina shawl are themselves fine which result in the making of heritage pieces

Types of Pashmina shawls

Based on traditional and modern patterns, here is a classification of various types of Pashmina shawls.

  • Solid Pashmina 
  • Embellished (ombre, pattern, print, swarovski, laced, embroidery)
  • Embroidered
  • Kani
  • Reversible (Plain/Embroidered)
  • Kalamkari

Solid Women's Pashmina

Some things are better when left untouched. Perhaps that is the story behind a Pashmina which is woven in a solid or plain pattern. A solid Pashmina shawl features no embellishments over its base. It is just the lush Pashmina base and the breathtaking colours it hosts that makes even solid wraps enshrined accessories

Solid Pashmina
A Kashmiri Pashmina shawl, handwoven in a solid pattern in classic diamond weave

Even if the fabric is plain, a solid Pashmina still has varieties based on the pattern of the weave. Note that a Kashmiri Pashmina is handwoven over a traditional handloom in a number of patterns manually. This brings into existence a few varieties in solid types of Pashmina shawls. 

Twill Weave Women's Pashmina

Twill is a type of weave that produces diagonal parallel ribs over the base of Pashmina. In the twill weave, the weft is woven across the warp at a jog and not in a straight criss-cross fashion. This results in diagonal ridges all over the fabric. The ridges are quite visible when this type of Pashmina is seen closely. 

When woven in a twill weave, the base is strong enough to hold embroidery motifs. As such these are the pieces that are chosen for embroidery

Diamond Weave

Mostly Pashmina shawls get woven in the diamond weave because this pattern gives the otherwise plain fabric more life and grace. When woven in a diamond weave, a Pashmina base will be full of tiny lozenge-shaped squares. This has earned it the name of ‘Chashme Bulbul’ meaning ‘Eye of a Bulbul’. Because this type of weave makes the piece a classic in itself, it is usually left plain. No further adornments and value additions.

Basket Weave

The weave is a basic loose, almost gauzy weave in which two or more wefts are laid out in a criss-cross fashion across two or more warps. Doing so gives the base a texture. The threads are woven exactly like a basket and upon close monitoring, the criss-cross patterns are clearly visible.

More than the weave, there are certain factors that determine the quality of a Pashmina. It is important to note here that these parameters show the durability and strength of the Pashmina you wear.

The thickness of Cashmere fibres

For a fabric to qualify as Pashmina, the average diameter of the fibre has to be between 12-16 microns. The finer the fibre, the more high quality and exclusive the product is.

Yarn Count

A yarn count is a number that indicates how many meters of yarn can be spun pr. gram. Hence the higher the yarn count, the thinner and smoother a Pashmina will be. Therefore if we say a Pashmina of yarn-count 100, it means that 100 metres of spun yarn weigh 1 gram. Imagine how fine the thread would be! 

Ply

Ply indicates the number of yarns spun together to one thread. One-ply indicates that one single yarn is used, while 2 ply would mean two strands of threads are used. The more yarns plied together, the stronger the Pashmina is.

Embellished Women's Pashminas

It was in the Mughal era when plain Pashminas got embellished with embroideries. But later, to meet the demands of modern customers, Pashminas got modish embellishments taking it out of the stereotypical image of a “traditional accessory”. Now Pashminas brim with colours, laces, prints and patterns to make them appropriate in the modern fashion world

Ombre Pashmina

Ombre Pashmina
A glamourous colour filling into plain Pashmina shawls is what the Ombre shawl is all about

As the name suggests, an Ombre Pashmina is full of Ombre shades of brilliant colours making it a modern fashion accessory. The shawl or wrap to be Ombre dyed is dipped in the colours and moved up and down in the dye container. This deepens some areas and keeps other areas subtler. A Pashmina can be dyed into more than two colours which highly depends on the skill of the dyer.  

Printed Pashmina

Print Pashmina
Digital printing transforming the Pashmina into a vogue accessory

Pashminas have been definitely seen a change to become chic accessories with modish prints. From animal prints to floral ones, Pashminas hold all prints with equal grace and elegance. Now we have leopard print Pashminas, animal print pashminas, floral print Pashminas, even monogrammed Pashminas which make perfect customized gifts. 

Patterned Pashmina

Patterned Pashmina
the magical hands of the weaver weave the shawls with specific placements of the warps and wefts which makes each colour visible at different places

From pencil stripes to chic checks, from plaids to abstract patterns, a Pashmina shawl has adapted to as many patterns as the modern fashion world invents. This makes it the most versatile piece of fabric. Patterns in warm and brilliant colours bedeck an otherwise plain Pashmina in sheer charm and allure.

Lace Pashmina

Lace Pashmina
French Chantilly lace hand stitched on to the fleecy cashmere

What could be more feminine than a fine netted lace wrapping around you in a pleasant fashion? The classic Pashmina shawl is given an embellishment of a pretty French Chantilly lace spanning over the base for a more girly and dainty touch.

Swarovski Studded Pashmina

Navy Blue Cashmere Wrap with Swarovski Crystals
Embellished by the one a kind Swarovski studs which evocate the feel of a starry winter night

One more pattern which makes the rich Pashmina base beam with glittery studs is a Swarovski Pashmina. Tiny golden or silver Swarovski studs are put over the base making the shawl apt to wear on casual days & semi-formal events.

Embroidered Pashmina

Embroidered Pashmina
Wrapped in the warmth of native emotions, a Kashmiri Pashmina shawl gathers every single blooming flower from the Mughal garden of Kashmir

Perhaps the most loved and cherished type of Pashmina shawl would be one with classic embroidery motifs. And since an embroidered Pashmina shawl needs more details and in-depth analysis and attention, it would be discussed separately in the next section.

Also read: Kashmiri Artisans - Hands behind the Craft

Embroidered Women's Pashminas

The warmth of the meticulous hands of an artisan is always evident on an embroidered Pashmina. In this rendezvous, the magic does not end at the finest fabric base it has but becomes more swoon-worthy when embroidered with the golden hands of expert artisans

Kashmiri Pashmina was first embroidered during the Mughal era. Even now the influence of Mughal culture can be widely seen over embroidery motifs. Designs like Shah Pasand (Emperor’s choice) and Buta Mohammed Shah (Muhammed Shah’s flower), both are named after the Mughal emperors. Since then, many more motifs were introduced in this art and embroidered shawls became cherished all over the world. 

Three main embroidery types done on Pashmina:

Sozni Embroidery

It is Sozni Kari that is mostly chosen to be embroidered over a handwoven Pashmina shawl because of its base being of a fragile texture and finesse. Since the underlying base is delicate as well, Sozni Kari is considered as the most gentle way to embroider a shawl

Sozni Embroidery Pashmina
A splendid shawl immersed in warm blue gets embellished with Sozni Kari of Kashmir which spans on every inch in a Jamawar pattern

Locally known as sicznikeam (needle work), Sozni embroidery is considered as one of the most refined forms of embroideries doen in Kashmir, with no parallel whatsoever. This exceptionally fine, gossamery and artistic needle work needs the full attention and expertly skill of an artisan who spends months and sometimes years together to complete one single piece.

A finely carved walnut wood block dipped in ink is stamped over the shawl for design. This imprinted shawl is sent to an embroiderer who used fine needles and threads to design the most beautiful patterns all over the base. 

Papier Mache Embroidery

Papier Mache Pashmina
A handcrafted Pashmina Shawl profusely embellished with Papier Mache embroidery features master craftsmanship at its epitome

Yet another form of needlework is the Paper Mache embroidery which embellishes a Pashmina in bold and thick motifs in breathtaking colours. The derives its name from the ancient art of Paper Mache (where waste paper is transformed to beautiful hand painted articles), because of the similarity in the looks. The process of Paper Mache embroidery is the same as Sozni Kari, just that the thread used is thicker to make bolder strokes.

Tilla Dozi

This regal embroidery pattern was most used in Mughal royal courts and worn by nobles and the affluent ones. But back then, Tilla dozi used real gold and silver threads to be embroidered onto a Pashmina. But as royal courts started dissolving and common people started showing interest in Tilla Pashmina shawls, some metals were used instead of real gold/silver however with a coating of the same.

Tilla Dozi Embroidered Pashmina
Handcrafted impeccably out of pure Cashmere, the shawl is hand embroidered in Zari Kari which showcases India's proud possession of heritage architecture

A designer draws a design on a paper and performs the same. This trace paper is placed in a shawl and dusted with natural ink which traces the design over the shawl. A Tilla embroidery specialist embroiders the shawl over the same design with malleable copper wires dipped in real gold or silver

Embroidery Patterns

There are a number of unique ways in which embroidery motifs are laid on a Pashmina shawl. The worth of a shawl is decided upon the quantity of embroidery threads used over the shawl.

Dordaar/Baildaar

In this pattern, embroidery runs all over the four sides of a shawl bordering all sides in beautiful motifs. The embroidery is of varied widths like 2 inch, 3 inch and the like

Hashidaar

Mostly done in Sozni, a Hashidaar shawl contains an embroidered border all around, with the addition of a stylized paisley flower over the  four corners

Bootidaar

This type of embroidery pattern sprinkles the entire base with small motifs of flowers or paisleys or butterflies and more at regular intervals.

Palladaar

This shawl is bordered over the width with broad embroidery border but over the length a comparatively narrow border

Jaalidaar

In this pattern the shawl is intricately embroidered over its base with webbed embroidery motifs which cover the entire shawl. Intertwined flowers are mostly embroidered all over the base in a loose pattern

Jamawar

The richest embroidery pattern in which motifs cover the shawl in such  a dense fashion that the base is barely visible. Such shawls are also embroidered in Sozni or Paper Mache due to the delicacy of the base. These shawls take 3-5 years to complete.

Kani Weave Women's Pashmina

It was in the 18th century when French monarch Napoleon on his return from a campaign to Egypt bought his wife Josephine a Kani shawl which she liked so much that it is said that she later owned hundreds of the same. A Kani Pashmina shawl is mostly seen in a Kashmiri bride’s wedding trousseau or at an exceptionally special event where the wearer definitely wants to be in the spotlight and look the best of any version of herself. 

Kani Pashmina
A rich red Kashmiri Pashmina shawl gets a breath-taking intervention of Kani threads when it is being woven over a traditional wooden handloom

Kani literally means small bobbins. It is these small wooden bobbins or sticks that are wound with colourful threads. These thread laden sticks are inserted during the weaving process of a Kani shawl, thereby embedding the base with beautiful colours and patterns. Note that for a three feet wide length, around 400 kani sticks are to be used and depending upon the design and complexity of a Kani shawl. It takes the artisan 1 day to complete just one inch, and 3 to 36 months to complete the entire piece. 

Reversible Women's Pashmina

If there is magic in weaving, it is evident here in this type of Pashmina shawl. A reversible or Do Rukha (meaning two faced) shawl is woven in such a fashion that the front side is different in colour or shade from the back side. This magic is done by the weaver who uses two different coloured threads over a loom and weaves the threads in such a way to cover the two different sides in different patterns. The colour combinations are carefully chosen taking into account the compatibility, trending colours and choices of common people. 

Variations

Because the reversible shawl is a masterpiece in itself, it was introduced to many variations.

A. The simpler one is when threads of two different colours are woven together, in such a pattern that the top layer uses one colour and the bottom layer a different one. What comes into existence is a shawl of two shades and each one is more alluring than the other. It is up to the design of the shawl if it uses two different shades of the same colour or two completely different colours for the two sides.

Pink and Blue Reversible Pashmina Shawl
Reversible pashmina shawl - in a rendezvous of conventional and contemporary

B. Another one was adding Tilla or Zari threads during the weave such that the front side of the shawl would be shimmery and the backside more pastel.

Zari Reversible Pashmina
The finest of shawls dazzled with a touch of Zari threads

C. Then there was this ethereal version of the Reversible shawl which made this magical piece more beguiling, breathtaking, and worth each love-filled look that falls on it - the embroidered reversible shawl or an Aksi Do Rukha (Aks means mirror image or reflection).

Paisley Showe Do-Rukha Pashmina Shawl
The shawl is handwoven in an Aksi Do Rukha or reversible pattern, where one side of the shawl is the mirror image of the other

An Aksi Do Rukha Pashmina shawl features bold and colourful embroidery motifs from the front side and a mirror image of the same from the back. It is like having two fully hand embroidered shawls in one. With such magnificent looks and painstaking efforts of the artisan, this shawl is more extravagant and pricey than the others and has earned a global acclaim for its superior craftsmanship and artful look.

Kalamkari Women's Pashminas

Kalamkari Pashmina shawls are nothing short of a painting when it comes to the mere looks of it. The word Kalamkari is made up of two words, 'Kalam' meaning 'Pen' and 'Kari' meaning 'work'. Hence Kalamkari is actually an artwork that uses bold brushes to paint magical motifs over Pashmina shawls. A unique characteristic of this shawl that distinguishes it from cheap copies is the careful mix of colours and the intricate hand-drawn motifs.

Kalamkari Pashmina
The exclusive characteristic for a Kalamkari shawl would be the fine details and the careful mix of colours in this intricate hand drawn pen work

After a designer gives the design to be imprinted over a Pashmina, a specialist Kalamkaar uses a bamboo pen with a flat nib, dips it into a special ink made from vegetable-derived pigments, and makes with his hands some exceptionally beguiling designs, making the shawl nothing less than an art piece. In Kashmir, some artisans further embroider these shawls over the painted motifs for a more prominent effect. 

What is Water Pashmina?

A relatively new kind of women's Pashmina has started surfacing online websites and stores everywhere by the name of Water Pashmina, upon thorough research (both primary and secondary) on the same, we came to know that water Pashmina is simply a synthetic blend of fibre and has a minimum thread count of Pashmina (at the most 70%). Dealers of this Pashmina claim that these can be worn all year round which makes it obvious that this variety has nothing to do with Pashmina. These Pashminas are full of shine and are reversible, but definitely not worth keeping in this list of pure and original Kashmiri Pashminas

To date, women's Pashmina shawls have been embellished in just these 5 or 6 patterns. It won't be completely erroneous to say that as fashionistas fall in love with Pashmina, more and more patterns will be acquainted with Pashmina. As patrons, we have to wait patiently and look forward to what the future world of Pashmina has in store for us. 

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 250 countries.

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