Changpa Pashmina Shawl

October 16 [Wed], 2013, 17:56

Pashmina: A precious textile artform from the province of Kashmir in India.


Nature is especially lavish in its generosity to Kashmir. The most beautiful landscape on this planet- “Janat (paradise) on Earth with serene high altitude lakes, lush vegetation and rich fauna and flora, Kashmir was an ethnic and cultural melting pot creating in the Kashmiris, a unique instinctive sense of aesthetics- a result of the amalgamation of the cultural influences of Greece, Persia, Turkey and of-course, the Indian sub-continent.


Nature endows its creations with an ability to survive in their own habitats. In the arid high-altitude desert of Ladakh- a region in Kashmir, 3700 meters above sea-level- reside a tribe of nomads- the Changpa tribe whose primary occupation for the last 500 years has been to rear a relatively small herd of highly pedigreed breed of the capra hircus goat- the Changthama.

Changthama goat

The hair of the Changthama goat has a diameter of under 14 microns and a length of 40 mm. When they came across the fine fiber of the Changthama- The Pashmina, they were smitten by the softness and the fineness of this ultra-precious fiber.

Weave Fiber

The weaving of this fiber originated in Kashmir- A fertile and picturesque valley nestled in between the Himalayan ranges. It is this fiber which is the genuine Pashmina and till today it is exclusively found in Ladakh- in the Northwestern province of Kashmir.

Pashmina Fiber

The Pashmina fiber is usually short in length (28-35mm) where as wool is longer (60-75 mm). During the harvest, the cashmere fiber invariably is mixed with goat hair which is coarse and hard. Spinning, therefore is extremely tedious. The process of dehairing (removal of the goat hair) and spinning on a wheel, into counts as fine as 120 Nm (120 meters of yarn weighing just 1 gram) was achieved by painstaking labour even with the nimble fingers of Kashmiri women. It took over twelve hours of hard work to spin just five grams of this fiber.

Pashmina Shawl

The pashmina shawl created quite a stir among the affluent in Britain. With the oriental influence prevalent in fashion and art during late eighteenth century, the Pashmina shawl became an essential element in the wardrobe of the ladies belonging to the highest social orders in Britain. It was impossible to attend any society event without noticing these shawls on the arms and shoulders of the most fashionable women.

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