Why is Pashmina so sought after?

Ever since pashmina had been discovered, it had been the most sought after fibre, being the raw material for the delicate pashmina shawls worn by the rulers & emperors, kings & queens.

Pashmina, perhaps is the only fibre, for which various invasions had been planned & many treaties signed to gain control over its trade. It had always been the soft spot of the producing regions, reaping the most profitable revenues.

The pashm trade was shielded from any political controversy by the various treaties signed & this resulted in the prospering of Kashmir’s shawl industry in the late 19th century.

The sparse availability & high prices, along with the combination of high demand & banning of the toosh fibre, led to Pashmina becoming the most sought after fabric in the world. Who process pashmina? The Changpa tribes of Ladakh who herd the changthangi goat & harvest.

How did Pashmina come to be?

During the stark winters, with temperatures below -40° C, the Changthangi goats grow a thick down of very fine & warm fibers under their coarse outer layer of fur. This fine fiber coat enables these goats to survive the chilly winters. This fine warm fiber, called “pashm” is shed by these goats during spring & that is when it gets harvested by the Changpa tribe.

How did Cashmere come to be?

The pashm of the changthangi goat is considered to be par excellence & is the raw material used to weave Kashmiri shawls. The westerners, unable to pronounce Kashmir, started calling it as “Cashmere”. This is the origin of the 19th century use of the term “Cashmere” for all goat pashm.

Why is Pashmina so exquisite?

The factors which determine the quality of pashmina are its fineness, its fiber length & color.

The raw pashm is available in colors ranging from white, considered the most premium, to brown & grey.

The diameter of the fibre determines its fineness & is measured in microns, i.e., 1/1000 of a millimeter. The pashm from the changthangi goat is between 13 to 19 microns. The suitable fibre length for hand weaving of “pashm” is more than 5 cms. The Changthangi goats that live at higher altitudes produce longer pashm fibre.

Who process pashmina?

The Kashmiri weavers, who buy the raw pashm from the middle men, the only connecting link between the Changpa tribe & the Kashmiris; clean the grubby raw pashm fibre. They then comb the fibre & segregate it according to the fineness. It is then hand spun & then set up into warps & put up on the handloom. The pashmina yarns are then hand woven & transformed into the beautifully luxurious pashmina shawls that are renowned the world over.

What types of pashmina are available?

Pashminas may be available in fabric form, gent’s size shawl, i.e., 100” X 50”, shawl size, i.e. 80” X 40”, stole size, i.e., 80” x 28” or scarf size, i.e., 80” X 14”. The most popular among these is the shawl size. The pashmina shawls may be available in plains colors, i.e., without any value addition, with hand embroidery or in the hand woven Kani shawl form.

What types of weaves are available in pashmina?

Pashminas is available in plain weaves, twill weaves or diamond weaves, also traditionally called the “Chashm-e- bulbul” weave.

The plain pashmina shawls are most notably available in the diamond weave as it adds more elegance & grace to the solid hued piece.

The hand embroidery is usually crafted on the twill weave pashmina shawls as they can support the weight of the embroidery better.

The hand woven kani shawl, one of the most expensive kind of Pashmina shawls, is woven in the twill tapestry technique & resembles the twill weave but the differently colored pashmina yarns forming the design on the shawl are interlocked within each other to strengthen the shawl & avoid any gaps created due to the pattern formation.

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