Pashmina shawls are a fine variant of shawls woven from Cashmere
wool of the Changthangi cashmere goat. In the Kashmiri language,
the word "Pashm" refers to the unspun wool of the Changthangi goat
(also known as Pashmina goat), a native to the cold hills of
Ladakh. Sometimes Pashmina can also be a blend of Cashmere wool
and silk in a 70:30 ratio. The traditional weaving culture of
Kashmir has gained popularity throughout the world and these
shawls have become a fashion icon, particularly among women. Known
for their soft texture, and sophisticated and opulent appearance,
Pashmina shawls have positively retained their value in the
International market. The local artisans of Kashmir are highly
skilled and are appreciated for their artistry.
The process of making a world-class Pashmina shawl is both
extensive and complex. It involves many steps that are mentioned
The making process of Pashmina shawls starts by selecting the
finest hair of the Changthangi goats. Buddhist nomadic herders
rear these goats and collect the soft hair by carefully combing
them. They are not sheared because there is a high probability of
breakage of the delicate fiber. Maintaining and preserving its
natural beauty and strength is essential during the process.
After getting the fiber, it is sent to Kashmir where the local
artisans, especially the womenfolk, begin its processing.
The raw Pashmina fiber is first cleaned and all the unwanted
particles attached to it are removed by hand. It is then placed in
a container having fine rice powder for at least two days to bring
more luster to it. The fiber is not exposed to any machinery
processing for it may lose its distinctive characteristics.
When the fiber is removed from the container and cleaned
thoroughly, it is now sent to skilled artisans who begin to spin
it on a wooden spinning wheel which is known as “Yinder” in the
The spinning wheel does wonders by transforming the thick fiber
into fine threads. These yarns are then handed over to handloom
workers who transform them into a solid fabric.
This is now the time to carry out the embroidery work on the
fabric to turn it into luxurious Pashmina shawls.
There are generally three types of embroidery patterns in
Pashmina; fine thread and needle embroidery is called Sozni,
embroidery with thick thread and needle is called Papier Mache,
and metallic thread embroidery is called Tilla. The most common
motifs seen on Pashmina shawls are Buta, Lahariya, Bel, Ambi,
Zanjeer, etc. Due to the extreme fragility of the Cashmere fiber,
the Kashmiri artisans prefer to use their hands while processing
and handling it. Manual processing results in soft and warm
Pashmina shawls. Hand-spinning techniques and hand embroidery
impart unique textures and patterns on them and therefore, no two
Pashmina shawls will ever be the exact copy of each other.
Depending upon the intricacy of the design, it may sometimes take
several months or years to complete one Pashmina shawl. The hard
labor that goes into the making process of these shawls makes them
more appreciable and therefore pure Pashmina shawls are always
more expensive than ordinary ones.
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