Elegant, fleecy, plush yet warm. Who doesn’t desire to own such an item of clothing in their wardrobe? The silver lining is, all of these qualities define a sole type of clothing- yes! which we all know as Pashmina.
Well, everything great comes at a greater cost, isn’t it? So does Pashmina
Considered one of the finest craftsmanship in the world, Pashmina is a kind of clothing, widely shawls, made from the wool of goats found in the trans-Himalayan region known as Changthang. This arid, mountainous area extends into Ladakh, India. These Changthangi goats are found nowhere else in the world. The winter temperature of the Changthang plateau can drop up to −40 °C as it has a minimum altitude of 13,500 feet above sea level. So naturally, nature envelopes these goats with wool of incomparable warmth, which helps them survive these extreme cold temperatures, which then they shed during spring, that is, only once a year. This ultra-warm wool is the only fine wool that is then collected by combing and not shearing. This wool hair is then filtered into the good and not-so-good parts.
The traditional skills
Pashmina wool is so fine that it cannot be spun using machinery. It is about 100 times thinner than a strand of human hair. While human hair is 100 microns thick, Pashmina is only about 10 microns. This is what makes the wool so luxurious, so rare, and such art to work with. The process, every step, is manual. Till today, the Pashmina is wove using traditional methods.
A specialist wounds the yarn around iron rods. The warp is then dressed by a person called Bharangur. The process of weaving a Pashmina Shawl is called Wonun and the weaver weaving is called Wovur. It’s like a pianist working but with both hands and feet simultaneously. Dyeing becomes a costly process then, as pashmina is natural wool and needs dyes appropriate for natural fibers. Based on the requirement, it is carried out by specialist dyers called Ranger. Then the master craftsmen called Voste, approve or ask for changes in design. Once approved, the artisans of embroidery spend up to 4 weeks to 3 years of their lives, intricately working on each shawl, based on the requirement. Even making a basic shawl takes around 6 weeks.
It requires a master artist to make a piece of art and there are only a few left who still have expertise in these traditional skills. Hands, intense time, and hard work contribute to the traditional process of crafting a single shawl of warmth and beauty. Right from the start of the process to the end, the finished products that you find in stores are the results of a few remaining skilled and hard-working minds and hands.
Discovered in the 16th century, Pashmina got the Mughal kings charmed all over it. Then this aesthetic art began to favor most of the royal families and nobles, not only in India but all around the world. Especially after the French monarch, Napoleon Bonaparte gifted his wife, Josephine, a Pashmina shawl that she was smitten by. Swooned by its beauty, Pashmina was a part of royal gifts, clothing, and even royal courtroom décor.
How can something like this not come with a higher expense then? The demand for a Pashmina shawl is high and obviously, the supply is limited. The price of the rare Pashmina yarn starts from ₹16,000/kg and an average shawl weighs around 300 gms. And that’s why the basic cost of a Pashmina shawl, only with solid color and no detailed work, starts from ₹10,000-₹12,000. If you ever find one below ₹5,000, just know that it is a scam.
From the wool of nature giving incredible, incomparable warmth, crafted so skillfully to add that beauty and make a style statement of a shawl worn by you, regardless of gender. Pashmina shawls do justice to their cost.
Graced with rare wool, rare traditional craftsmanship, and a piece of our heritage. That’s what you wear when you wear a Pashmina shawl.