Kashmir is an integral part of Pakistan. Because of its beauty, it has been said to be the paradise of the earth. But it appears that the beauty has somehow been passed through the scenery to the hands of the master craftsmen and ended up in the fine Pashmina shawls they create. For they surely are a prized treasure that can be passed through generations.
These days you can find various kinds of shawls being called Pashmina, but in fact they are not. Pashmina is the finest wool that comes from the special Pashmina goats. These goats as they live at high altitudes in snow and face severe cold weather, develop a special Pashm or inner coat which is very fine and light. Only the fine wool of inner Pashm is used to create the actual Pashmina shawl, which is why they are quite expensive. The wool is about six times finer than the human hair and is spun and hand woven into Pashmina fabric. The quality of true Pashmina is that the finer and lighter it is, the warmer its going to keep its wearer. Because of this quality, the famous ring shawls literally pass through a ladies ring though they have a size of 2.25m x 1.25m. Most commonly 70% Pashmina and 30% silk blend is considered the finest Pashmina. Shawls having greater than 70% Pashmina ratio are called Shahtoos. They are rare and very, very expensive.
Producing Pashmina fabric is all hand work. No machines are involved in it. But the production of the fabric is only half the journey. Next the process of intricate hand embroidery begins. The exquisite design, beautiful patterns, wonderful colors; all lend hands to create master pieces. Each shawl is a piece of art. The hand embroidery is done in such detail and with such craftsmanship that puts even machines to shame. You cannot tell the difference between the right side and wrong side of the hand embroidered Pashmina shawl. Each shawl takes months to complete as the whole process is done by hand.
There are many types of Pashmina shawls depending on the designs of hand embroidery. Jamawar, Jaal, Sozani,Chashm-e-Bulbul etc; but whatever the design may be, they are a priceless object of master craftsmanship. Pashmina shawls are available for ladies as well as gents, though their designs and sizes differ. With proper care, the shawls last generations.