History of Pashmina

Everyone started wondering where the “Pashmina” came from? Was it from Nepal or Kashmir? To improve the perception of our valued customers, we produce some of the facts surrounding it.

how to wear shawl-stolesThe late 1990s was when the epidemic for “The Pashmina" began. The Silk Pashmina which became a craze among the fashion connoisseurs was brought about by a few enterprising businessmen from Nepal.

The Pashmina fiber is obtained from the underbelly of the Capra hircus goat generally found in the sub zero temperature Himalayan ranges and the sub Siberian latitudes.These goats only shed their winter coat each spring and produce only 3 to 8 ounces of wool per animal. This breed of goat was originally bred in the high Himalayas for its superior wool. Nature has endowed this delicate animal with this special fiber to keep it warm even in the sub zero temperatures.

Shawl-Stole-Care-InstructionsThe weaving of this fiber originated in Kashmir, a picturesque valley nestled in the Himalayan ranges. This weaving of the Pashmina fiber was initiated by Sultan Zayn- Al- Abidin who summoned a highly skilled weaver called Nitghz Beg specially from Turkistan. The Kashmiris till date revere this highly skilled weaver. The Kashmiri shawls were woven on handloom and then washed in the waters of Jhelum to give it that ineffable softness. This fiber was introduced to the west when it began trading with the Indian sub continent. With the colonization of South Asia, the British first brought this fiber to Europe. In reverence to its origin, they named this fiber “cashmere”. The hand woven shawls from Kashmir were sourced through the East India country and sold at exorbitant price in Europe to the high-heeled ladies of the society.

how to wear shawl-stolesDifference between Pashmina and Cashmere:
The Pashmina fiber is short in length (28 – 35 mm) where as wool i.e. (60 – 75mm) longer. During the dehairing (removal of goat hair) the fiber is mixed with goat hair, which is coarse and hard. Hence spinning this fiber to obtain the yarn is an extremely tedious process even for the deft fingers of the Kashmiris. The Europeans had woollen and worsted spinning systems for longer staple wool and hence could not spin this short length fiber. They used additives like binders, a small percentage of wool to spin the yarn, with a required strength needed to bear the tension of the warp. This was the European “Cashmere”. But these machine made fabrics were no match for the pure hand-woven pashmina from India.

Shawl-Stole-Care-InstructionsDifference between the Nepalese Pashmina and the Kashmir Pashmina:
The Nepali Pashmina was born as a result of the thirst of the Pashmina. By using Chinese spun silk on the warp and cashmere yarn on the weft the resultant fabric was scoured with soaps to remove the harness of the spun silk along with the spinning oils and binders from the weft yarn. The final result was the Nepali Pashmina, which took the Western world by storm. Every fashion designer worth his name and all the department stores in America and Europe had their shelves full of these. The insatiable demand from the west led to mass production with quality getting degenerated to evolve into the commercial forms like viscose and other man made forms.

how to wear shawl-stolesDifference between Toosh and Shatoosh:
The shatoosh was obtained from the fibre of the endangered antelope Chiru. The fiber obtained from this animal was negligible and hence was mixed with the finest quality of pashmina to weave the shatoosh.This was sold to the rich and wealthy at exhorbitant prices as the shawl of the chiru. The Toosh shawl was woven from the finest Pashmina yarn with long fibre length harvested from the Capra hircus in the spring season. There is hardly any difference between the both of them in terms of quality and hence there may as well be a single term for both the qualities.