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Story of the Royal Pashmina
8/19/2018 11:52:46 PM
Dar Javed

Kashmiri Pashmina re
fers to the Fabric woven out of Pashm wool by Artisans from Kashmir. Pashm is the raw material used in weaving Pashmina and refers to the fine, fleece of Pashmina goats classified as"Capra Hiracus". These goats graze at high altitudes in Himalayan ranges. Fabric Pashmina (also known as Pashm) is fine cashmere wool, coming from Kashmir in India and some parts of Nepal.
The word 'Pashmina' comes from the Persian word 'Pashmineh' which means 'made from Pashm', and Pash means wool in Persian. The Iranians, who came to Kashmir via the Ladakh route, gave the fabric its name, 'Pashmina'. The famous Pashmina Shawls are made from this fine fiber.
The Most unique aspect of Kashmir Pashmina is:
The fineness of the Pashm wool is between 14-16 microns while the finest sheep's wool being 23 microns thick and the human hair ranges up to 200 microns. One can easily spot the difference. The pure Pashm wool is so fine and delicate that it can only be handspun and hand woven into fabric as it keeps breaking during the entire process.
The Pashmina Goat was first discovered by a prominent Muslim scholar, Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani in Ladakh in the 1300s. Earlier, the fiber was also known as pashm. The first mention of Kashmiri woolen shawls were found in the Afghan texts between the 4th century BC and the 10th century AD.
However, it was the 15th-century ruler of Kashmir, Zain-ul-Abidin, who started the Cashmere wool industry in India by introducing weavers from Central Asian countries. The Changpa tribe from the Changthang region is known to be the traditional producers of Pashmina wool in the Ladakh region. These tribal people rear sheep in harsh and chilly winter climate and lead a nomadic life to produce Pashmina wool. The Cashmere wool is collected every spring from the goats shedding their winter coat. Approximately 80-170 grams of the fiber is collected from each goat and spun. Throughout the winter season, the inner coat of the goat's wool re-grows and becomes ready for extraction of wool in the next spring. The quality of the wool produced in the Gobi Desert is regarded better than the Himalayas variant because of its consistent manufacturing process and modern machinery.
The finest Pashmina (scarf, shawl, stole) is woven from the softest and warmest goat's wool found in nature - from Pashmina. Soft fibers of this warm wool originate from a particularly delicate fluff from underbelly of furry breed the central Asian cashmere goats Chyangra (Capra Hircus - Ibex).Chyangra is domesticated and lives in the remote Himalayan valleys at an altitude of above 14,000 feet above sea level. To survive the harsh weather conditions, this mountain goat is equipped with a long, mostly white coat with a soft undercoat. Against extremely low temperatures at high altitude Himalayan during the long harsh winters insulates and protects goat Chyangra this thin inner coat of hair - fine fuzz, which is used to produce pashmina (cashmere).
Kashmiri goats Chyangra are rare. Every summer herders collect the under-fur from goats by hand. After sorting from bristly hairs and clearing gets the soft fluff and after a long process, Pashmina is produced. The size of raw cashmere fibre is 1/6 diameter of a human hair. Production of the Pashmina is ecological. These goats are not harmed in the process of producing pashmina, as it is collected after being shed naturally. From time immemorial are these natural procedures consistent also with today's strict rules protecting animals, nature and the environment.
Moorcroft's Study on raw material says that 'every spring ,Himalayan farmers climb these mountains to comb fine woolen undercoat from neck and belly of the Capra Hiracus goat. It takes about 3 goats to produce the wool for one standard size shawl'.
He further adds that 'in summer Ladakhi traders come to Chang-Thang to exchange raw fleece for grains, tea and manufactured goods. The traders collect fleece and transport it to Leh (Capital of Ladakh) where the Kashmiri dealers make their purchase and then forward wool to Srinagar'.
Pashmina has become a status symbol of the Indian , Asian elites, and later on of the European and Western upper classes. Pashmina was, is and will remain forever royal clothing. As in the old days in the Orient and also today Pashmina is an essential part of the fashionable wardrobe of modern woman.
This fact indicates timelessness, attractiveness and practicality of this classical fashion accessory. Even today original pashmina, cashmere, wool and silk scarves and stoles remain magical and popular among fashion accessories.
It is Luxury and stylish and genuine Pashmina is a precious gift of nature. Fine pure cashmere, wool and silk are a jewel of natural materials of the highest quality.
Dar Javed is a postgraduate in craft management and Entrepreneurship from Craft Development institute , Srinagar Kashmir.
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