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The Story Of Cashmere....!

Cashmere products are amongst the most delicate wear ever woven and worn in the known history. Cashmere wraps have been the objects of desire for Emperors and Maharajas, Nobles and  Aristocrats in the past. Now they are treasured by the modern woman with a love for understated luxury.



The Cashmere Scarf in your hand has a story behind it!

 

Every year, when the winter’s biting winds howl over the coldest places on this earth – the bleak high altitude plateau of inner Asia, that is when the goats and other animals don their chill proof natural wear, which is a thick down of superfine fibers  growing beneath their outer coat.  This growth of superfine hair enables them to survive low temperatures plummeting down to minus 40 degrees C, and in spring they shed these hair, because they have no need for it.

 

 

Pre-eminent among the down-bearing goats are the trans-Himalayan breeds of Tibet and Ladakh, indentified as the Tibetan or Chanthangi goats.  Also prominent in this category is Yama goat of Mangolia.

The journey of cashmere products begins with  segregating  (as per color and quality), sorting, cleaning and spinning of the  yarn.  These tasks are laborious hand processes, mostly undertaken by women in the group.


The two main determinants of quality in cashmere fibers are fineness and staple length, both of which will affect the feel of the finished product.  Cashmere fiber is measured by the micron. For comparison, a human hair has a diameter of around 70 microns.The standard for cashmere varies between 13 to 19 microns.  When these fine fibers are spun into thread, a multitude of microscopic air-pockets are formed; it is these that give the material its extraordinary warmth and softness!

 

So the beautiful and delicate cashmere scarf/shawl passes in its journey from sorter, spinner, weaver, dyer (rangrez) to needle worker (rafugar) or the hand embroidery person. In weaving, the handloom used is still very simple and  basic; shawls being woven on the age-old throw and catch principle, using a slim boat-shaped shuttle.

 

The base weave for most of the cashmere shawls is normally a lozenge-shaped design known as chasm-i-bulbul (the eye of the bulbul).  Mark the diamond shape weave in the photo below on the extreme left side. Though the twill weave and the plain weave are also used in many cases.

 

Cashmere Scarves-diamond Weave,Embroideries

The cashmere shawls can be hand embroidered too.  This work is undertaken by craftsmen, who have learnt it from their ancestors in the family as a tradition.  In contrast to the machine made design, the hand needle artisan works on a single piece for a long time.  His life has not changed as per the changing times, he sits bent working on a single piece for months together,  embroidering the motifs of love and life.

 

 


The cashmere scarves/shawls may also have a special woven design called ‘kani’, which is interwoven at the time of shawl weaving.  ‘Kani’ is an antique art of putting floral motifs with the help of numerous colored bobbins…..many a bobbins are used simultaneously with great skill as per the design instruction page, called ‘talim’.  It is work of patience and love….it may take a craftsman more than a week to weave an inch of ‘kani’ floral design!

 

Soak in the romance of cashmere scarves!  Feel snug in its super luxurious feel!