What is a Pashmina? What makes it so expensive?

A symbol of elegance and luxury, Pashmina is the most refined version of cashmere and one of the finest quality wool available on Earth.

What is a Pashmina? What makes it so expensive?

A symbol of elegance and luxury, Pashmina is the most refined version of cashmere and one of the finest quality wool available on Earth. Pashmina shawls have been treasured for their reminiscent designs and expensive material since time immemorial. The softness and warmth offered by these shawls is simply beyond comparison. Kashmir has been known for producing the most exclusive Pashmina Shawls in the world ever since the reign of Emperor Ashok. Zayn-ul-Abidin, the 15th century ruler of Kashmir, is said to be the founder of the wool industry in Kashmir. However, the history of Pashmina shawls can be traced back to the 3rd century. Earlier it was only worn by kings and queens, therefore denoted royalty.

The word Pashmina comes from a Persian word “Pashm” meaning a weavable fiber precisely wool. The wool used for making Pashmina is obtained from a special breed of Kashmiri goat found in the high altitude regions of the Himalayas. To withstand the freezing temperature of the Himalayas, which can go down to -25° C, the goats (Chagra) produce fine undercoats between the belly and throat. The diameter of the Pashmina fibers is between 12 & 15 microns. The wool is harvested by brushing the softer and longer hair produced by the goat. The fibers obtained are then washed, sorted and finally transported to Srinagar, the only region in the world to master the delicate art of weaving Pashmina.

Pashmina Goats, Ladakh

The production and weaving of Pashmina has been a part of Kashmir's legacy for thousands of years. Since its inception, the pashmina shawls have been exported to the United States and Europe. The production and export of Pashmina serves as a major source of income for the people of Kashmir. The demand of Pashmina in the fashion industry exceeded its supply in the 90s. Because of this, Pashmina became even more expensive and was limited mainly to the upper class society.

Pashmina shawls are the highest quality shawls, made from a very fine silk-like fibre that requires an expert hand for spinning, weaving, and patterning. The pure pashmina is recognized by the softness and warmth of the shawls. In some cases, color also helps in identification as pure pashmina shawls are of cream color naturally.

Pashmina’s Benefits

● Very Warm

● Fabrics and knits are lightweight, thin and breathable

● Adjusts to humidity in the air for adaptability in all cold climates

● Luxurious fabric with an elegant drape

Pashmina Styles/Designs

Apart from plain solid and texture weaves, Pashmina also comes with hand embroidered and woven designs for people who love to style and are fashion conscious, to add a mesmerizing appeal to their outfit.

● Kani​: Kani, from the Kanihama region of Kashmir, has been making fashion statements since the Mughal era and is one of Kashmir's oldest handicrafts. A can needle is used to weave the kani pattern. The designs vary from full complicated jaal to just the borders known as Border Kani. As many as 40 colors can be used in the weaving of a single kani shawl.

● Sozni​: Sozni is a marriage of the art style with the imagination. For sozni embroidery, thin needles with silk threads are used to create paisley or elaborate floral patterns on pashmina shawls and stoles. The needle work panel of abstracts or flower motif designs on borders of the shawls is created with satin stitch and has identical designs on both sides of a shawl.

● Kalamkari​: Kalamkari is a unification of two words "kalam" - brush and "kari" - work. Kalamkari means the work of the pen. The intricacy with which Kalamkari is done involves a kalamkar (worker) who traditionally uses bamboo and wooden cut pens dipped in inks made from vegetable pigment.

● Jamawar: The word jamawar is derived from urdu where Jama means ‘a robe or shawl’ and War means ‘Yard (the measuring unit)’. The jamawar contains a blend of wool, cotton and pashmina containing a large spectrum of colors which results in an inimitable uniqueness to each Jamawar shawl.

● Aari: Aari hand embroidery is the specialty of Kashmiri artisans. It is regarded as one of the most time-consuming types of needlework. Hooked needles, also called tambour, are used to create intrinsic, concentric designs. Aari work is often used to create elaborate and highly refined floral patterns on Pashmina shawls and stoles.

At Hanggul, our shawl styles range from traditional and timeless to fashion-forward and contemporary. We offer exquisite embellishments and intricate designs fondly cherished as treasured heirlooms.