Believe it or not, even a shawl has a unique personality or identity. Particularly, Pashmina shawls and stoles have redefined winter drapes for ages. Pashmina shawls are a culmination of the highest sensibility due to their warmth, sheen, elegance, colour, design, and durability. Overall, these handwoven shawls turn out to be creative masterpieces.
In this write-up, we will delve into various types of Pashmina weaves and their uniqueness.
The Art of Weaving and how it makes a Difference
Pashmina shawls are the outcomes of fine weaving from the even finer undercoat which is cleaned and hand-spun into yarn and has amazing insulation properties. Hand spinning this delicate fibre to yarn is usually done by women artisans who are extremely skilled as the fibre tends to break easily.
Handspun yarn - The raw ingredient which goes into weaving
After the yarn is ready , then the next process is creating warp and then hand weaving. The weaving process of Pashmina yarn into a shawl is done in traditonal handlooms. Before weaving, artisans size the yarn with a special type of natural starch or resin.
The weaving of Pashmina Cashmere is mainly done by men artisans (at least in Kashmir).
Master weaver working meticulously
The weaving process comprises the following key steps:
- Shedding: Shedding is the process of lifting up some warp thread by the harness or loom to create a way for inserting the weft.
- Picking: Inserting the weft yarn
- Beating up: Moving forward the weft yarn to keep it in line or close to the preceding weft yarn.
Artisans use a weft yarn horizontally at precise angles to the warp. The alternating movement of the warp and weft is what creates and differentiates one weaving from another even when using the same base fiber.
During the step of shedding, artisans add the design components into a shawl. They create beautiful patterns by selecting the yarns to lift up at the precise time when inserting the desired weft under them. Pashmina shawls have a glossy look due to its tapestry weaving that has a glistening effect. Overall, it is an incredible art of weaving!
Types of Weaving
Lets look at the popular weave types used in making Pashmina shawls and stoles:
1. Plain Weave
Plain weave is one of the popular and fundamental weave types. It is a simple criss cross pattern with warp and weft threads crossing at right angles. It's a very strong weave and resembles a checkerboard.
2. Diamond Weave
The diamond weave is a beautiful and elegant pattern with an aesthetic sheen that is pleasing to the eyes. This type of weave takes the shape of perfect diamonds and hence also know by the name "Chashme Bulbul" in local parlance. Creating diamond weave shawls is an intricate process, and only experienced artisans can make such a fine item.
In this context, it would be interesting to mention that the world’s most expensive shawl “Shahtoosh” is also a result of the diamond weave.
3. Fishbone or Broken Twill Weave
Broken twill weave is a distinct V-shaped weaving pattern in Pashmina fabric. This type of weave stands out from a plain chevron by breaking the continuity in a regular or irregular order that makes it look like a broken zigzag or fishbone like a herring. The pattern is known as “herringbone” because it has similarities with the skeleton of a herring fish.
4. Kani Weave
Kani weaving is another exclusive art of creating wonderful Pashmina shawls and stoles. This is perhaps one of the most sophisticated forms of weaving.
The origin of Kani as an indigenous art form can be traced back to 3000 BC when it received royal patronage for its mesmerizing design, hue, and softness. In the Kashmiri language, Kani refers to a small wooden oblong spool sticks used to weave each colour in Kani shawl.
At the beginning of the weaving process, the pattern drawer maker or “Naqash” creates a Kani design pattern on a graph paper. Subsequently, Kani weavers use a coded script to weave a shawl.
Before We Go
Over the years, the impact of Pashmina shawls is so deep-rooted that it has led to many imitations. However, none of those look alike shawls can withstand the test of time. It is due to the intricate weaving of Pashmina, the shawls and stoles always leave a lasting impression in terms of aesthetic beauty as well as quality.