'Pashmina' comes from a Persian word 'Pashm' meaning 'Soft Gold'. Pashmina is the finest form of wool in the world. A muslim saint named Mir Ali Hamdani is attributed as the inventor of the craft. He and his 700 craftsmen visited Ladakh and discovered that the goats in Ladakh produced the softest wool on earth. He was so impressed that he took some wool, made socks out of it and gave them to the king of Kashmir - Sultan Kitabudin and suggested that they make Pashmina in Kashmir. It was at this time that the world's most luxurious pashmina shawl was born - the Cashmere Pashmina Shawl.
The story of Pashmina starts in the himalayan range mountains where a goat named Chanthangi (Capra Hircus) develops the most plush wool in the world, to protect itself against the killing cold of an altitude of 15000 ft. In the spring, goats shed their skin by rubbing themselves against the rocks. These shed fleeces are collected by the shepherds and sold for a profit. As a result, this fleece undergoes the complex pashmina making process and eventually evolves into a luxurious shawl.
The down hair or the under fleece are deemed the most suitable for the craft. Pashmina is made in many places around the world using the fleece. Some parts of Nepal, China, Mongolia, as well as India, make pashmina, but the best comes from Kashmir, India. It was in Kashmir that wool was first discovered by westerners, which is why it is called Cashmere.
Having a genuine Pashmina is a dream for everyone, but how can we ensure that it is authentic? With the launch of certified Pashminas in the market, this problem has been addressed. You can be confident that this pashmina is authentic. Shawls are available both in the market and online. Before we dive into the availability, let's explain what certified cashmere Pashmina shawls are and why they're special.
SHOPPING FOR CERTIFIED PASHMINA IN INDIA
The pashmina making craft was introduced to Kashmir in the 15th century. After the fleece arrives in the valley, it is cleaned, deharred, spun, and then woven. This is all done by hand, and the average cashmere Pashmina shawl takes 33 artisans to make. Kashmiri pashmina fiber is considered to be the finest of all, with a range of 12 - 13 μ and a fiber length of 55 to 60 mm. This finesse has earned it the title of the best pashmina in the world. Throughout the generations, Kashmir has been known for its cashmere Pashmina shawls, and it continues to be one of the most sought-after crafts in the valley. Over the years, however, duplicates have been posing some threats to the craft because of their presence on the market. As a result, the reputation of authentic Kashmiri Pashmina is being tainted. People are getting cashmere pashmina Shawl at cheaper prices and although they are being told that it is the real one, the product actually turns out to be fake, thereby breaching the trust of Customers. Today, the market is flooded with so many duplicate products that it is difficult for a buyer to distinguish between them. Several years ago, a well-known telecommunications company produced a campaign which showed a Pashmina manufacturer using the ring test to prove the authenticity of pashmina. However, according to the grassroots artisans of authentic and certified pashmina, that ring text is completely false and does not in any way demonstrate that the pashmina is authentic.
As a protection against replicas, the Kashmiri pashmina was registered under the Geographical Indications (G.I) of Goods Act of India on 09-12-2008. Registration acknowledges that a craft is unique, produced with traditional knowledge, and requires skills that are unique to that area. Pashmina that is authenticated under this law has a covert (readable under UV light) as well as a visible code that can be verified at www.kashmirpashmina.secure-ga.com
There is a government recognized institution which tests the quality of pashmina and then provides them with marks for identification. A pashmina must meet three basic requirements to qualify for the mark, which are:
- The pashmina should be made from the original “Pashm” fiber having a finesse of below 16 microns and the wool should be the down hair of the goat.
- It should be hand spun on a traditional wheel called Charkha.
- It should be woven on a traditional handloom specific to it.
A Pashmina that meets all of these requirements is considered a certified handmade Pashmina.
The reason behind this is that pashmina fiber is delicate and cannot be used with machines. Some variants of Pashmina Shawls made from cashmere are spun with machinery. The Pashm fiber, however, is so fine that it does not possess the strength to withstand the mechanized giants. It is therefore necessary to add a little poly fiber (preferably nylon) to raw Pashmina to give it the strength to pass through machines. Once spun, the entire yarn is carbonized which eliminates the presence of this poly fiber, though not completely. The nylon that remains during the weaving process is negligible, about 5 - 6%. The weaving of a pure pashmina is done by hand with great delicacy. This nylon, if present, will be detected in the test and the cashmere pashmina shawl won't be considered for a mark.
Since pashmina making is a labor-intensive process, and all the work is done manually, it is not surprising that the product is a high-priced luxury. So next time you buy a pashmina for very cheap prices, check the quality. And as admirers of an exquisite Pashmina, we would recommend going for a certified Pashmina only so that you can be sure about your investment. Now Certified Pashmina can be bought either online or from a local artisan dealing in it.
Hanggul offers a wide selection of contemporary Pashminas and stoles. As for Embroidery, there are other types such as Sozni Pashminas, Tilla Embroidered Pashminas, and Aari Embroidered Pashminas. Keeping up with the new trends, our collection is a real treat for any Pashmina lover. Grab your phone or laptop, visit hanggul.com, and select your favorite Cashmere Pashmina shawl.