The History of Pashmina
For centuries pashmina has been valued throughout the Middle East and Asia, both for its warmth and its lightness. It is renowned for its exotic silky texture, and is so versatile it can be worn on any occasion.
Pashmina is the lightest, warmest and softest natural fabric, and it is made from the finest cashmere wool. This wool is from the underbelly of the Hircus Capra goat, the mountain goat which lives in the Himalayas in Nepal, around 14,000 feet above sea level. These goats are able to survive the sub-zero temperatures because of their extra layer of hair which insulates them from the extreme cold, and for many years the people of Nepal have depended for warmth on the fabrics they wove from this hair. It is thought that the art of making pashmina dates from as early as 3,000 BC, and the skill has been passed down from generation to generation. The word ‘pashmina’ derives from the Persian word ‘pashm’, meaning the finest wool fibre. The Hircus Capra goat produces only between 3 to 8 ounces of pashmina wool in a year, and this wool is incredibly fine, being less than 15 to 19 microns in thickness, whereas human hair is around 75 microns thick.
Cashmere has been woven into shawls for centuries, and the soft fabric found favour with kings, emperors and the aristoctracy. Pashmina could be found in the palaces of Caesar and also Marie Antoinette, and it is believed that Napoleon was so impressed that he used pashmina to woo Josephine.
The majority of the world’s pashminas are now hand woven in the Kathmandu valley in Nepal, and are sought after for their lightness and warmth. The aristocracy have been wearing pashmina since the 15th century, but in the late 1990’s designers from New York, Paris and London began to include them in their collections, and the rest of the world discovered what a luxurious fabric pashmina is. Once you have worn a genuine pashmina shawl and experienced the warmth and softness for yourself you will not be satisfied with any of the inferior products that are available!