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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Useful Information on Shawl Scarves Origin and Pashmina Shawls

The first shawl was worn in Assyrian times – it was called “shal” and from there its use moved to the Middle East. Males wore shawls too at the time as they still do in parts of India.  A Shawl used to be cloth loosely worn to cover the shoulders or head of men and women in ancient days. A fine example is the finely woven Orenburg shawl which was akin in softness and fineness to the famous Shahtoosh which is now banned. A scarf is a smaller piece of cloth generally 12” x 64” intended to cover the neck area or head area.

The shawl usually woven is shaped in a rectangle most practical for coverage, or square, triangle, circular or oblong. It was and is even today generally sized at 26” x 72” with 3” fringe. The larger shawls for added coverage and warmth are generally 30” x 80” with 3” fringe. Shawls can have a 0.5” eyelash fringe or can be fringeless. The cloth is dyed to make seasonal colored shawls and wraps that women all over the world love. Depending on the weather women and men too in some parts of the world still wear shawls and scarves for warmth protection and style.

Kashmir in India was considered the textile capital of the world and shawls were hand woven  in Pashmina splendor with aari embroidery and intricate hand work. The ancient Kanikar shawls depicted trees, flower blossoms, mango shaped paisleys mostly nature in its intricate beauty. The Dourukha Kashmiri shawl was a woven masterpiece at the time.

Years later the “Naksha” in Persia akin to Jacquard loom popularized shawls with flowery paisley motifs & creepers and the ladies in France and UK were wearing these beautiful shawls by 1700’s. In 1803 the Kashmiri Needlework production was set to produce more shawls in higher quantities to meet the increasing demand of the shawls worldwide. Kashmir enjoyed exclusivity but with advent of Jacquard loom in Paisley Scotland the paisley shawls were mass produced in Europe and Kashmir lost its exclusivity.

The word Pashmina has Persian origin meaning  ‘Pashm’ or wool.  Soft Pashmina wool comes from the Chanthangi goats found in the high altitude of the Himalayan mountain range in Nepal. Here, the goats thrive in a severely cold environment and have developed a protective skin and special soft fine wool in their underfur which is then surrounded by slightly coarser fur/wool for their survival. This soft underfur of the Himalayan mountain goat when it is shed is the softest cashmere pashmina which is used by the cashmere weavers to hand weave shawls and wraps.

Light Silk Pashmina Shawls are ideal for spring & summer and the beginning of the cooler seasons. In colder part of fall & winter the Cashmere Pashmina wool shawl is preferred for its light weight but highly protective soft warmth. The shawls are made in a single layer on one ply or 2 layers or 2 ply and the 3-4 ply makes the shawls warmer, thicker  & plusher for cold winter shawls and cape wraps.

Some sites online have a niche market for handcrafted shawls in shimmery beauty, with seasonal motifs and scrolls for your bridal bridesmaid shawls, and unique evening shawls for your evening dresses and gowns. Nothing says I care more than an original shawl made for you in 1-2 days that can be customized in design and colors and ships from the USA. They make elegant unique  Holiday shawl gifts to treasure.

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