Pashmina, also known as the “Diamond Fiber” and “The soft gold of high Asia” is reportedly the finest, softest and the warmest wool found in nature. It is derived from the under belly of the “Capra Hircus”, the mountain goat or as locally known “Changrya”, found in the remote regions of the Himalayas above 10000 feet from sea level and the Inner Mongolian highlands. The goats are never harmed in the process of producing Pashmina, as it is collected after being naturally shed. This is unlike the process of producing “Shahtoosh”, in which Tibetan antelopes are killed.
Each goat produces only 3 – 8 ounces of wool every year, which can be collected only in the spring, making Pashmina both luxurious and scarce. The wool is then spun into yarns that are woven in handlooms by expert weavers into absolute exclusive and glorious fabric. The caressing fabric is then transformed into mufflers, stoles, scarves, shawls blankets, dress material etc. It takes nearly three days and the annual growth of three goats to produce one hand woven Pashimina shawl.
Like all other fabrics, Pashmina made by Nepal Handloom Silk Industry is also woven in an old and long-established Foot – Treadle Floor Loom by weavers who have great knowledge, skill and experience in weaving.
Many tourists have complains on being disillusioned having bought a Pashmina. Let us clear one thing that, there is no any kind of cheap Pashmina. Cheaper the Pashmina, the more of the sheep wool percentage, mixed in it. A Pashmina shawl bought at a price of Nepalese Rs. 400 is a guarantee 0% Pashmina (maybe even very less of sheep wool, more of synthetic fibers) even if their tags say 100% Pashmina. For assurance, when in Nepal, please buy Pashmina from well recognized stores. However if someone says 70% Pashmina/ 30% Silk, it does not necessarily mean it is of bad quality. Silk is generally mixed with Pashmina, to avoid its delicateness, so that a Pashmina can be used for day to day purposes. Some very fine Pashmina shawl can also pass through a ring.
Pashminas are a treasure. Not surprisingly the ladies of the 18th century court in France and St. Petersburg, as well as Mogul Emperors were enchanted by the regal texture and warmth of the fine fabric. Napoleon reportedly started a fashion craze when he presented a Pashmina shawl to his wife. Two hundred years later Pashmina remains an essential part of the fashionable wardrobe, attesting to the durability and appeal of this classic accessory.