History and Pedagogy of Pashimina – This is the only fabric which has gone through the tests of all time since 300 B.C, and has received the Geographical Indication stamp (under WTO) in fabric and luxury world.
The History of yarn dates back to 300 B.C. But today’s craft of Pashmina was brought to Kashmir from Persia (present day Iran) by a Sufi saint Mir Syed Ali Hamdani in 13th century A.D. He had a group of artisan with him who taught the art of weaving different shawls, to Kashmiri soon-to-be artisans, out of Pashmina wool obtained from the Kashmiri goat located on the high Himalayas of Ladakh. The Industry flourished during this period.
When Mir Syed Ali Hamdani came to Kashmir they bought new techniques to this industry from Persia and this craft start flourishing on international level.
The story of most luxurious fabric.
The Story of Pashmina opens in Ladakh. Ladakh is a region of Jammu and Kashmir, India which is the highest plateau on the earth. The massive Himalayan mountains are over 6000 meters of the sea level which are home to the world best wool goat- The Changthang goat or Capra hircus. The raw wool is first obtained from these goats which are reared at the altitude of above 5000 meters (13000 feet) of sea level, in the Changthang region of Ladakh. It is pertinent to mention that, it takes the fibre of three goats to weave a single shawl.
The Pashmina is made by the golden hands of artisans of Kashmir. All phases of Pashmina production – from dehairing, sorting, spinning, weaving to dyeing and embroidery are done by hand, which makes the production of shawls limited, rare and high-priced. Pashmina fibre is obtained only by combing and not by shearing as in the case of sheep.
A Pashmina shawl may take a month to get completed by the artisan, whereas the fine needle work embroidery on the shawl may take up to two years. Such craftsmanship is done by the needle-worker that at times it even costs the vision of his eyes.
World Production of Pashmina: 70% from China, 20% from Mongolia, and 1% from Kashmir (India) – but the 1% Pashmina from Kashmir is the finest of all because only the women folk of Kashmir are able to spun fine thread out of Pashmina (12-16 microns diameter) on the wheels called Yender and for the reason it has been put under the Geographical Indication Marked products category.
While speaking to Rouf Ahmad Qureishi, activist and member of Pashmina Weavers Fraternity, he said “if the Capra-Hircus goat is reared in the outside parts of Ladakh, they will not be able to produce the fine Pashm fabric of 12-16 microns. Just a simple change in the altitude and temperature changes the diameter of the Pashmina fiber”
Since the 16th century, the British exported Pashmina shawls to Europe, especially to France (In fact, when France lost the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian war, the trade almost came to a halt). History witnesses that the fashion was Pashmina shawls were presented in Paper-Machie boxes (another G.I craft of Kashmir). Soon after the 16thcentury, there began the shawl exhibition in Europe, which further boosted the sales.