has earned its way in the closet of all. It is one of the demanded apparels by women in the world. Owning a genuine Pashmina is a dream of all women. Its elegance can transform any dress into a head turner and can make any lady stand tall. Throughout history kings, queens and other nobility were the only ones who could afford to have shawls and accessories made from this ultra-luxurious fabric.
Now Where does this luxury come from? Where can we buy the authentic Pashmina ? and most significantly How do we know if it's pure and original? These are some of the questions that concern all Pashmina lovers. In this article of ours, we have tried to answer these questions to the best of our knowledge. So let's get started.
What Is Pashmina?
The word Pashmina has derived from the Persian word “Pashm” which literally means “soft gold”. Pashmina is the finest of cashmere wools available in the world and it took from a goat named Chanthangi (Capra hircus). The goat is native to the Himalayan mountain Ranges and is also found in China and Mongolia. To protect itself against the cold of 15100 feet above the sea level, Chanthangi develops the plushest wools and when the summer comes there is no other way but to shed the same. The goat sheds the wool by rubbing itself against the rocks and shrubs leaving behind fine short haired fleece. It is this shredded wool which is then collected by the shepherd and sold worthfully. Although pashmina produces in many regions across the Himalayas, it is Kashmiri Pashmina, which regards as the finest of all. Having a range of 12-13 μ (microns) and a fiber length of 55 to 60 mm it is this finesse which lends it its rarity and earns it a special place in the world of luxury fashion.
The wool which received in Kashmir then goes through thorough processes of cleaning, spinning, and weaving and evolves into the luxury wrap or accessory. The Pashmina making in Kashmir started in the 15th century by a prominent Muslim scholar named Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani when he came with about 700 craftsmen from parts of Persia. He visited Ladakh for the first time where he found that the Ladakhi goats produced soft wool. He took some wool and made socks out of it and gave them as a gift to the king of Kashmir, Sultan Kutabdin. Afterward Shah-e-Hamdan suggested to the king that they start a shawl weaving industry in Kashmir using this wool. Ever since Pashmina making has been the most celebrated craft of Kashmir. Passed from generation to generation of skillful artisans, it takes the diligent effort of 33 workers to make a Pashmina Shawl. From hand spinning to hand weaving, the wrap undergoes meticulous processes which make it what it is - a piece of luxury. Coping with the ever-evolving fashion trends, the industry has kept its pace at par. Today we see not only the pashmina wraps in demand but other accessories as well like sweaters, scarves, pocket squares & socks however shawls are the most dominating one. To enhance the elegance of Pashmina, many wraps embroidered upon by hand using the needle which doubles the luxury quotient. The two most elaborate embroideries of Kashmir - Sozni and Tilla Kari have become an ally to it and adds to the grandiose it exhibits.
This Answer the first question for us regarding the origin of Pashmina and where it comes from.
The authenticity of Pashmina and Its Certification.
Moving onto the next quest, how do we know if the pashmina is real or not? Do they come with any certification for the buyers to be sure?
First thing first, passing through the Ring, which is the general notion for testing authenticity, does not in any way prove that it is a pure Cashmere Pashmina. The RING TEST, as per the pashmina makers is absolutely faux. So what is the real mark of authenticity? We are here with the answer all are looking for. The authentic pashmina which made from pure cashmere wool comes with a certification seal. The government gives the seal to a recognized institution where the pashmina undergoes certain tests and if all passed, it qualifies for the certification mark, since the best of pashmina comes from Kashmir we have chosen it for further elaboration.
The institution in Kashmir which does the certification named as Craft Development Institute, whose main focus is to give the craft of Kashmir an economic boost and protect its authenticity as well. The seal provided by them termed as “G.I certification”.
Kashmiri Pashmina has registered under the Geographical Indications (G.I) of Good Act of India on 09-12-2008. The registration is an acknowledgment of the fact that the handicraft is unique and is produced in a particular area with traditional knowledge and skills specific to the region. Kashmiri Pashmina G.I. mark labeled product has a covert (readable under UV light) and a visible unique code, which can be searched on www.kashmirpashmina.secure-ga.com to verify authenticity.
Any pashmina which needs to have a certification mark is sent here for the testing. As per the rules, there are 3 prerequisites which need to be fulfilled to get the mark. Those are:
Pure Pashmina Fibre: It should make of pure pashm having a finesse of below 16 microns. The fiber should be secured from the famous chanthani goat ( Capra Hiracus). There is specified machinery in the institution to check if it is that fiber or not.
Hand Spun On Traditional Wheel: For the pashmina to qualify for certification, it should have been spun on a traditional wheel which is called “Charkha”. The spinning of fiber in Kashmir is generally done by womenfolk and it is believed that in the world it is only the Kashmiri women who are able to spin the fiber to its perfect finesse. It takes around a month to spin 110 grams of the pashmina yarn on a traditional wheel while working 7 hours a day with full efficiency.
Hand Woven On Traditional Handloom: There is specific handloom devoted to the making of Cashmere Pashmina. The handloom used is sometimes as much as 100 years old and is passed on from generation to generation. As per one of the pashmina weavers, there is actually no nail in the handloom and the entire loom is made by fixing the wooden planks into each other.
The Pashmina fiber is so delicate that if put into a machine for weaving, it breaks off easily, therefore in the machine made pashmina some nylon has to be added to give it the strength. This nylon then becomes the clue for examiners while testing the authenticity of the product and if found, the pashmina is rejected from certification.
With all the duplicates flooding the markets, it becomes imperative for the government to protect the craft and ensure that pashmina does not lose its charm and authenticity. This is the reason attempts like “certification” have been made. Now the question arises, where do we get certified Cashmere Pashmina from? Do not fret, we have got you covered.
Best Online Store To Buy Certified Pashmina
We have been strolling through many sites which sell Cashmere Pashmina and the one that caught our eye was this website called www.kashmirbox.com. Digging further we got to know that the company “Kashmir Box” actually stands to support the local artisans and have the vision to take Kashmiri crafts to the world. Pashmina being the most important craft has made its way into their prior checklist.
The company is an online portal which has the largest collection of Cashmere Pashmina from Kashmir. The variants they have include the Kani Pashminas, Embroidered Pashminas, Plain Pashminas, Dual Toned Pashminas, Contemporary Pashminas and most importantly we found the ones we were looking for, which is Certified Pashminas. The website has a separate category by this name and the certification mark can be seen in the website product pictures very clearly. To reassure the credibility we did go through some customer testimonials, reviews and their social media handles as well. As much as it is difficult to trust online stuff these days particularly in case of luxury items, this one seemed absolutely trustworthy and what better place to buy Pashmina, than its place of origin.
Cashmere Pashmina is a lifetime investment and we completely understand how very difficult it can be to trust the originality. With all the information above, we hope to clear as many doubts as possible.