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What is Genuine Pashmina or Cashmere?

What is Genuine Pashmina or Cashmere

“Every Pashmina is Cashmere but every Cashmere is not Pashmina.”

What is genuine pashmina or cashmere? is the question of every customer. Have you ever thought that why Pashmina and Cashmere words are the most famous words used in the luxury fabric and fashion industry? And where they originated from? Even very few people know what is the difference or relation between them. This short article will enlightene you that what actually these two luxury words are.

Pashmina OR more technically “Kashmir Pashmina” is to fabric industry what Rolls-Royce is to automobile industry, even more than that. It is thinnest commercial natural/organic fiber, 6 times finer than human hair and 3 times more insulating power than Alpaca wool with its amazing health benefits. First pashmina yarn creation dates back to 300 B.C. in a extremely beautiful valley named as Kashmir (Cashmer).

Fabric of Royals.

Extraordinarily soft, scare and higher priced, brilliantly colored; as light and warm as a feather; admired by the Mughal Kings to the Queens of British Empire; worn lavishly by some of the richest persons of this planet – Pashmina. Yes, that is Pashmina we are talking about.

Also known as India’s scarf for royals, Kashmir based hand-spun, hand-woven and vegetable dyed genuine pashmina is made on Traditional loom (NOT Hand-loom).  It has inspired the imagination of art collectors across the globe and the word pashmina (Kashmiri) has migrated to different corners of the world by same name ‘Pashmina’ or by ‘Cashmere’.

Where Cashmere get its name from?

The word Pashmina is derived from a Persian meaning ‘soft wool’ which is obtained beneath the throat of goat which is usually known as Capra hircus or Pashmina goat. Before 800 years several Persians came as preachers to a beautiful valley on the north of India with their followers and other artisans. This vale is known as Kashmir. Then During 17th and 18th century Western colonial powers created colonies in the far east. Travelers traveled to the far east through silk route. All came across through this very beautiful. Every one who entered into this valley  came across through a unique very luxurious fabric which they started naming Cashmere – on the name of its production place ‘Kashmir” (Cashmir).

Since then Pashmina is also known as Cashmere in the West. But original Kashmiri for which it was famous for more than 800 years is only made in Kashmir with centuries old traditional process. The pashmina goat from which the pashmina fiber is obtained is reared on the high Himalaya above 13000 feet of sea level in Ladakh region of Kashmir. This pashmina goat is the only goat in the world which can create pashmina/Cashemre fiber of less than 12 microns diameter.

Experts View.

Mr. Rouf Ahmad -one of our professional adviser who has visited high altitudes of Ladakh where these pashmina (original Cashmere) goats are reared states , “During my visit to high altitudes of Ladakh several times and my talk with pashmina goat shepherds and overall expertise in this field it has been found that if the same pashmina goat is brought to the little lower altitudes of Ladakh region, the same pashmina goat can not make 12 to 16 microns diameter of pashmina fiber.”

The Altitude, Temperature, Geographical Area, and even Air Pressure are the main factors for the creation of thinnest, most luxurious, and most insulation natural fiber which world has ever seen. This condition is not provided by other parts of the world even if the same goat is reared there. The pashmina wool which is obtained from the near goat species in other parts of the world is called ‘Cashmere’ but the fiber diameter is more than 25 microns which is far less than the original pashmina. So “Every Pashmina is Cashmere but every Cashmere is not Pashmina.”

Birth Place of Pashmina or Cashmere.

Yes! A place in the lofty high Himalayas called Kashmir is the birthplace of this luxurious craft; it is historic and prestigious for the past four centuries in the western world and last word for women in luxury and fashion. we won’t hesitate by saying that Pashmina is undisputedly the finest fabric the money can buy in the modern world. It has been an entity of desire for French emperors, Iranian nobles, Indian Kings, Sikh rulers, Russian Czars, British aristocrats and indeed the elite classes like Rothschild, Rockefeller etc.

Recently “Kashmir Pashmina” or real Cashmere has been put under the Geographical Indications (G.I)  product category and is being stamped with U.S Patent online tracked Stamp called ‘GI Stamp’ at Craft Development Institute Srinagar website at http://www.kashmirpashmina.secure-ga.com/ad_search_label2.php  ,which is an autonomous body under the Directorate of Handicrafts, Government of Jammu and Kashmir, India.

Know more at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236708639_Consuming_Kashmir_Shawls_and_Empires_1500-2000

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Creation of Pashmina: Time and Process

Creation of Pashmina: Time and Process

Creation of Pashmina: Time and Process – Original pashmina shawl weaving is a laborious process. It takes months to years to create a single piece of Kashmir Pashmina. In the meantime if weaving or fine needle embroidery artisan dies the whole process stops, because the hands work is unique for each artisans and the rest of shawl will be different form other part of the shawl. It takes around a month to spin 110 grams of the pashmina yarn on traditional wheel while working 7 hours a day with full efficiency.

Through chain of process it reaches to weaver who takes at least one week to create 80 x 28 inches shawl depends on the design. There are at-least 30 stages through which a single simple Kashmir Pashmina shawl or stole goes through. If calculating together each simple 80 x 28 inches shawl needs more than 20 days of creation depending upon the pattern and design.

A single Kashmir Pashmina shawl with fine hand needle embroidery is completed from months to years and the cost can go up to 10,000 dollars. The price depends on the finesse of needle work. E.g Empress Josephine of France ordered Kashmir Pashmina fine needle embroidered shawl which took 6 artisans and 9 months to create.  

B)- Steps of Creation. 

Steps used in making of ‘Kashmir pashmina’

Click here:- Visit our YouTube page for Pashmina making processes

Traditional and Hand Loom

Spinning method: – Only Kashmiri women are able to spun fine thread out of Pashmina wool (12-16 microns diameter) on wheels called Yender. Even they are able to spun below 9 micron diameter of Shah Toosh Fibre.

Spinning Methods:

  1. Traditional loom
  2. (Woolen) Handloom

Only Traditional Loom (NOT Hand-loom) can be used to weave genuine and original pashmina – GI Kashmir Pashmina. Latest Studies and years of experience has suggested that the hand spun-yarn developed on traditional looms are always better in quality than hand-spun yarn developed on (woollen) handlooms.

 

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Geographical Indication (GI) Label on Kashmir Pashmina.

Geographical Indication (GI) Label on Kashmir Pashmina

In order to preserve the centuries old art of spinning and weaving of genuine pashmina fabric. And to maintain international standards the Government of India (Under WTO) has established a quality mark for genuine Pashmina that will identify items the genuine fiber known as Pashm obtained from the goat living in Ladakh of Kashmir region. Geographical Indication (GI) Label on Kashmir Pashmina is a US patent stamp on the original ‘Kashmir Pashmina’ fabric or its products and is known as the G.I Mark.

Geographical Indication (GI) is a name or sign used on certain unique products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin (e.g. a town, region, or country). The use of a Geographical Indication may act as a certification that the product possesses certain unique qualities not found elsewhere and is made according to traditional methods, or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin, under the Paris Convention and Lisbon Agreement.

UNCTAD, WTO and UNESCO have argued that the crafts from the substantial part of country’s cultural heritage, skills related to such crafts are affiliated to a community and must be protected in the areas of their origin. The world business organization believe that when the arts and crafts of one region are copied by others, they are deprived of earning without their consent, and deprived of from their rightful earnings. Limited crafts like Kashmir Pashmina are given bad name to the original craft. Hence the GI Act was passed as a part of exercise to save the indigenous art and craft of the area in compliance to Article 22 of TRIPS agreement. The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is an international agreement administered by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that sets down minimum standards for many forms of Intellectual Property (IP) regulation as applied to nationals of other WTO Members.

For a layman to understand: GI Mark is a stamp which is put on any woven product like scarfs, stoles, shawls, coats, or any manufactured product from the real Pashmina material which is; 1:- Hand-spun; 2:-  Hand-woven; 3:- 12 to 16 microns fiber diameter.. It is done at Craft Development Institute (CDI), at Srinagar, Kashmir, India. The Kashmir pashmina products go through quality control checks using electronic microscopy, physical and chemical test before stamping on each product. The stamp is patented in which one can see 100% Genuine and Registered Pashmina under U.V light and green sparkling under laser light. The registration number on the stamp can be tracked online i.e. the manufacturer of product, his phone number and address. The stamping is done to those Pashmina artisan who is registered under the GI Authority of India head office at Chennai.

There was a legal fight between different countries to whose pashmina the G.I stamp will be provided. Indian side of Kashmir was given that privilege to stamp their pashmina because of reasons:-

1- Only women folk of Kashmir can make a thin yarn out of this delicate fiber on this blue planet as pashmina fiber does not comes on yarn making machines.

2:- Its origin is in Kashmir (Cashmere).

3:- Only Ladakh region of Kashmir, which is also the highest plateau on the earth, has goats called Changthang which can make ‘Pashm” or fiber of 12 to 16 microns of diameter. Other countries cashmere goats make more than 20 microns diameter of fiber and that is then mixed with nylon to be spun and  woven on machines.

The word “cashmere,” from the eighteenth-century English spelling of Kashmiri shawls’ geographical home, was popularly linked with “exotic” luxury in nineteenth-century Britain. European and American firms used “cashmere” to give distinction to locally manufactured shawls, fabrics, and even toiletries. (A talcum powder named “Cashmere Bouquet” is still sold by an American mail order business which specializes in commodity nostalgia, with an advertisement situating the product in the 1870s.) 4 Western manufacturers produced imitation Kashmiri shawls and used the word “cashmere” to promote their own products. 5 Similarly, in the late 1990s western European and American marketing relied on the exoticism of a different Subcontinental word, pashmina, to sell plain-weave shawls made from the same goat hair as “cashmere.” 6 Pashmina shawls went from being exclusive high fashion to middle-class popularity in 2000.

Visit our blog link for amazing facts and history of Kashmir Pashmina https://kashmirpashminagi.com/the-asian-shawl-trade-1500-1800-ad/

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Kashmir Pashmina: The Fabric of Royals

Pashmina: The Fabric of Royals

From Napolean Bonaparte to Nikolai Demidov: Vogue of Pashmina in Europe, Russia and Beyond.

It is believed that the Western women particularly had developed a romantic rapport with the Kashmiri Shawls. From Kings to explorers everybody had to ensure that on returning home, the Pashmina Shawls is brought as a present for their beloveds.

The Pashmina came into the limelight in Europe during the reign of Napoleon. In 1798, Bonaparte successfully attacked Egypt, at that time part of the Turkish Empire was under Selim III. Among the booty gathered from Turkish janissaries were Kashmir shawls, which were adopted by delighted French court ladies and became high fashion. The Empress Josephine, ever extravagant, is said to have owned as many as sixty Kashmiri shawls. Not only was the shawl high fashion, but its high cost made it a status symbol, and its exotic origin and design fed into nineteenth-century romantic enthusiasm for all things Oriental.

Europe & Pashmina

In the nineteenth century, shawl design in Kashmir received a powerful external stimulus and change of course when European attention impinged upon local tastes.

Kashmir had long since captured the imagination and wonder of European travelers and this proved the case with Napoleon Bonaparte when he made his journey to the East. Napoleon showered Empress Josephine, his wife, with all the love and adoration you could and often brought timeless pieces of art and fashion on his return from his long and epic journeys across the orient. In one such display we can see Empress Josephine depicted in a portrait wearing a beautiful and extravagant Kashmir shawl dotted with the beautiful and timeless motifs from the epic land of Kashmir. Empress Josephine:

Likewise, the super-wealthy of European gentry was also had a penchant for expressing their love with the gift of Kashmir Paisley shawls from the beautiful and respected land in the East. Nikolai Demidov, a wealthy Russian who dominated the mines and foundries of the Urals region in Russia was very fond of expressing his undying love to his wife, Yelizaveta Demidova (1779-1818). Yelizaveta who was a baroness no less had developed an exquisite taste for timeless fashion and made sure that her husband in expressing his chivalrous and unbridled passion give her nothing but Kashmir Paisley shawls embroidered with the most beautiful and timeless motifs. Yelizaveta Demidova:

 

Nobel Families and Kashmir Pashmina.

As Europeans expanded commerce and colonies in Asia, aspiring wives of newly rich industrialists followed the style of their aristocratic sisters, and shawls became essential items of dress. Supply could not meet demand, and European manufacturers hastened to share this lucrative market. Not only did they strive to copy styles of Kashmir, but also to modify designs for European tastes. Eventually, they also sent designs to Kashmir to be woven and then returned to Europe for sale.

During the early parts of 19th century, the shawls industry in Kashmir skyrocketed with exports – from United Kingdom to France to the far East as Russia. In those times, the Pashmina Industry was providing the livelihood to more than one hundred thousand employees. But that was the year 1822, we are talking about, unfortunately in the present scenario – due to the industrialization – there have remained only a handful of artisans who try to melt their hands on the craft of their ancestors.