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Home > Profile> Prespective > Shawals


The woven garment worn over the elbow and loosely draped over so as to cover the body over to shoulders, which appears to be elegant. It was the woven Kashmiri shawl that attracted women flock all over the world. These shawls were very much in demand quite for a long time. Later on Paisley designed shawls became very popular and they remained famous for over a century. The word "SHAWL" is found in Persian language, which used to denote a type of woven fabric. It was during the Mughal Emperor Akbar's period that the modern shawl's history began in Kashmir. He had been accredited for having brought the weavers from Turkey . It was during his period, in 18th century the shawl was on top all the woven fabrics.

With the advancement of the technology, the production of shawl has gone up, thus meeting the demand of the time during 1870 and thereafter. At this time, due to the changing scenario of the global situation, war between the countries of East and west and certain trade restrictions between the nations, the trend of the people changed. Their choices have changed. They started to like some other textiles.
As the demand for the Kashmiri shawl shapely fell, the weavers who were mainly depending on the manufacturing of the shawl were facing problems to maintain them and their families. This was a very big blow for the Kashmiri shawls. Due to their elegant nature, the Royal families were very fond of using these for various occasions and they were in possession of so many in their dressing rooms. So this became every ones requirement for all special occasions. The shawl use to provide extra elegance not only for women but also it was used for covering bed couches, table's chairs & pianos etc. The shawl soon became a fashion for the richest and the middle class was trying to imitate the higher class. It was opined that the Kashmiri shawl was long lasting and free from any side affects. Hence the usage of the shawl became very popular amongst all classes of society.

The Weaving of Shawls

The weaving techniques vary from place to place. In Kashmir the shawls are woven by hand in weft faced twill tapestry technique. For the color combination, selected colors could be wound to bobbin forward and backward through the wrap to create the desired design. Depending on the size of the shawl, design and other aspects, the duration of making shawl varies. The complex design, with long and heavy work on a big shawl needs a longer duration. During this period, i.e. the 17th century the shawls were made in many Asian and European countries. So many fashions came up using the native land designs and descriptions, religious and cultural and as such so many patterns evolved. During the middle of the 18th century Kashmir started producing shawls of high quality, which have been much in demand internationally. Toward the end of 17th century Britain started to make shawls of so many varieties including that of Indian Kashmiri shawls. They were tried on so many combinations. A smooth and soft variety of wool was used to make wefts. Silk wrap was used to provide strength. The machine made shawls of the Europe were of the competition with the Kashmiri hand woven shawls. But, traditionally made Kashmiri shawls were having their demand as they were known for the rich heritage and quality. The Kashmiri work had grown enormously due to their being best in all shawls. As the weaving on the machine began in a big way, the hand woven shawls were finding problems, as they were not able to meet the demand. This became advantageous for machine made shawls and as such they were able to sell more, meeting the demand of the situation. This resulted in some of the shawl manufacturers to even diversify their business for survival. Thus the designs those were prevalent towards the end of the 18th century, evolved from India and the Europe are still prevalent and are extant even till date. Thus, gradually evolved in to a big industry, the shawls of the 19th century comes with rich pattern which were made by using the light colors such as cream etc. This is also one of the features for finding the time or period of manufacturing the shawls. In the beginning the Kashmiri shawls were brought to Europe for copying the designs. Later on, books were also brought from Europe to Kashmir for manufacturing the shawls having the international market demand. This exchange of designs paved ways for development of new designed shawls in the market by the year 1910. At present shawls are manufactured in India, in Kashmir, Amritsar and Jullandhar. The other countries manufacturing the shawls are England, France, Australia, Russia and the U.S.

The characteristics of Kashmiri and the European shawls that vary mainly by the method of weaving and type of cloth used.

Differences between the Kashmiri shawl and the European shawl

1) The Kashmiri shawl is woven from hair. It is very smooth and light in weight, whereas the European shawl is woven out of silk and wool, hence it is heavy in weight.

2) Since hair of the Pushmina goat was used for weaving, the Kashmiri shawls are very strong and durable, whereas the European shawls were not durable as the wool used for wrap was not strong enough.

3) In both the cases the method adopted is 'twill tapestry.'


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  Silk Embroidery

Variety of shawls

Alpaca Shawls
Angora Shawls
Beaded Pashmina Shawls
Cotton Shawls
Crepe Shawls
Eri Silk Shawls
Fur Shawls
Jacquard Shawls
Khadi Shawls
Organza Shawls

Polyester Shawls
Raffle Shawls
Satin Shawls
Shahtoosh Shawls
Silk Shawls
Silk Wool Shawls
Velvet Shawls
Viscose Shawls
Wool Shawls

Regional Specific Shawls

Assam Eri Shawls
Aurangabad Himroo Shawls
Gujarat Shawls
Himachal Pradesh Shawls
Kashmir Shawls
Manipur Shawls
Nagaland Shawls
Punjab Phulkari Shawls
Rajasthan Shawls
West Bengal Kantha Shawls

Browse through the beauty and warmth of each region specific shawls, which are admired for centuries all across the globe
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