Beauty. Elegance. Softness. Warmth.
Connoisseurs cherish it; celebrities never have enough of it; and the world of high fashion goes wow over its beauty & elegance, warmth & softness. Rightfully so, as the most gorgeous ensembles are hand-crafted from the royal fiber called cashmere/pashmina to delight the style divas. The historical yarn is equally impressive – full of dramatic turns and colorful twists till the Indian pashmina warmed & captivated all hearts.
The Ancient Glory
Derived from the Persian word pashm (wool), pashmina shawls are hand-woven from finest-quality cashmere wool harvested from the downy undercoat of the Himalayan mountain goats (Capra hircus). Besides India, the major producers of cashmere are China, Mongolia, Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey. Although woollen shawls were mentioned as early as third century BC pashmina-making truly flourished under Zayn-ul-Abidin, a 15th-century ruler of Kashmir. A great patron of art & crafts, he had brought master weavers from Turkmenistan to Kashmir Valley and pashmina masterpieces came into being – hand-spun, hand-woven and exquisitely embroidered. The unique pashmina weave of finest cashmere & silk retained its pride of place during the Mughal Empire and adorned the Royal Courts of the Indian sub-continent. Akbar the Great was a keen collector of Kashmiri shawls while the rich and the elite across the country followed suit. The immense popularity of the luxurious fabric among the Royalties and the Nobles soon helped establish a flourishing cottage industry in the Valley of Kashmir.
From Heritage Craft to Haute Couture
Although a time-consuming and labour-intensive exercise, the making of pashmina and pashmina wear did flourish in the Indian sub-continent even when mass production ruled the day and connoisseurs across the globe were virtually unaware of this heritage craft. The 80s and the 90s saw a rousing revival though, and the Indian pashmina industry made a definite comeback.
Pashmina has been brought to the world of haute couture by the Indian heritage craft nurtured over the millennia. Premium silk pashminas (70% pashmina & 30% silk) remain the current rage of the fashion scenario – cherished for their superb textures, lovely sheen, stylish drape and featherlike lightness. Soft, supple & snug, the classic pashminas from India have graced the likes of Grace Kelly, Madonna, and Gwyenth Paltrow. The splendour of this prize possession is never going to fade – as the sheer beauty of the weaves keeps you spellbound.