Cashmere - The Story of Our Pashmina Scarves
August 15 2013
The Lake Palace in Udaipur at Sunset
It all starts with a palace at sunset.
Last October I spent the entire month in India. Five of those days were in the mystical city of Udaipur. This city in Rajasthan surrounded by lakes captivated me with its history of Maharanas who ruled the once Mewar empire, its large, intricate palace and its sunsets.
City Palace in Udaipur built in 1559
Each afternoon I would walk through the palace courtyard towards my favorite terrace to witness the sky turn brilliant shades of orange as the sun set over the lake on another palace, the Lake Palace. In route, without fail, I would get sidetracked at a little cashmere shop within the palace walls. It is here I met my friend, Ravi, who introduced me to the exquisite pashminas his family creates.
Ravi and his family are from Srinagar, Kashmir. Srinagar is located in a valley in Northern India and is surrounded by the Himalayas on all sides. Ravi's family has been hand-weaving cashmere pashminas along side other artists in his home town for 3 generations. Today they pride themselves in the fact that they provide cashmere to the current Maharana as well as export their exquisite product all over the world.
Pashmina straight from skilled artisans in Kashmir
Story of Our Pashmina Scarves:
During my daily visit to the shop, I gained appreciation for the the delicate, soft creations. Ravi educated me on the different cashmere wool qualities, blends as well as the artistic process involved in creating each piece.
He shared pictures with me so I could see the organic origins of the wool as well as the faces of the artists whose labor intensive effort produces such extraordinary hand crafts.
Of course, it all starts with the Cashmere goat!
Fine undercoat fibers are collected from the dense coat of the goat. It is then dyed naturally using colors from vegetables or stones and then carefully woven on wooden looms.
According to Ravi there are 3 qualities of Cashmere wool. The highest quality comes from the "chin" (which extends down the front of the goat), the second highest from the belly and the back wool, which is the coarsest, comes in third.
The cashmere fiber is very thin and fragile. To be properly woven it must be handled by hand only.
To create each pashmina scarf, a woman or man artisan works approximately 20 days!
Sometimes delicate needlework is added as an embellishment.
The end result is a genuine creation from a unique corner of our globe. I was so compelled by the quality and feel I had to get one for myself as well as a few to share!
Today I am excited to make these exquisite, traditionally created pieces available at JJ Caprices under our very own label!!!
Soft, colorful, warm and versatile they are sure to become a go-to accessory for all seasons. I consider mine a treasure, and each time I put it on I remember the extraordinary men and women in a far away land who gave so much of themselves to create something so wonderful.
Discover our luscious pashmina scarves!
My next trip to India I will be certain to visit Srinagar, Kashmir...and to think this all began with a palace at sunset.
P.S. I had to include below Ravi's written description of how pashmina is made. Like the pashmina itself, it is priceless.
"Pashmina is one kind of wich only come from the Kashmir north part of India. And this wool it's famous in all over the world. The pashmina it's wool of got the gots they live in high altitude of mountain. And the wool it's grows under the coat of the hair. And when the have enough wool they shed on trees on mountain. And it's collected by trible woman in Kashmir and it has three different quality of pashmina. 3 quality it's from the beck part of the got and second from the belly. The from belly a little thik and strong and the best quality it's from the chin part of the goat wich is like cloud and very soft like butter. And in all those plane quality we have disigon one hand wowne and needle work one. Wich is done by the lady artist and man artist." - Ravi