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Pashmina Shawl - UPSC Current Affairs

Pashmina is a luxurious and high-quality wool from the Changthangi goats of Ladakh, India. Handwoven by local artisans, Pashmina shawls are renowned worldwide but can be costly due to the hard work and time involved in creating one. Due to its exclusivity, Pashmina is often subject to adulteration.

Jan 28, 2023

4 min read

Pashmina shawls have been a coveted accessory for centuries, known for their softness, warmth, and elegance. Made from the finest cashmere wool, these shawls are handwoven by skilled artisans in the mountainous regions of Kahmir. These shawls are luxurious and high-quality woolen product made from the fine wool of the Changthangi goats, which are domesticated in the Ladakh region.




The name "pashmina" comes from the Persian word "pashm," meaning wool. Weaving a single Pashmina shawl is a labor-intensive process that can take up to 72 hours or more to complete, making these shawls quite costly. The process of making a pashmina shawl is a time-consuming and labor-intensive task. The wool is first collected from the mountain goats and then cleaned, carded, and spun into yarn. The yarn is then dyed and woven by hand on traditional looms. It takes several weeks to complete a single shawl, but the end result is a piece of art that is truly one-of-a-kind.


The raw Pashm is harvested by the Changpa tribes of Ladakh who herd the Changthangi goats. These Changpa are semi-nomadic and classified as a Scheduled Tribe. The raw Pashm is then cleaned, combed, and sorted by the Kashmiri weavers, who then spin and weave it by hand into the luxurious shawls that are renowned worldwide.


One of the most unique qualities of pashmina shawls is that they are incredibly versatile. They can be worn in a variety of ways, making them perfect for any occasion. They can be worn as a wrap, a scarf, or even as a stole. They can be dressed up or down, making them perfect for both formal and casual events. They can also be used as a blanket to keep you warm on a cold winter night. Pashmina shawls are not just a fashion statement; they are also a symbol of tradition and culture. They are a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the artisans who make them and the rich heritage of the regions where they are made.


Pashmina shawls have been certified as a Geographical Indication (GI) product, which means that it can only be produced in the Kashmir region of India. The certification also lays down certain criteria such as the shawls should be made from 100% pure Pashm, the fineness of the fibers should be up to 16 Microns, the shawls should be handwoven by local artisans of Kashmir and yarn should be only spun by hand. However, due to the restricted availability and high prices, adulteration of Pashmina with sheep wool/ultra-fine merino wool is a common practice by manufacturers. To tackle this problem, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) published an Indian Standard for identification, marking and labelling of Pashmina products to certify their purity.


It's worth noting that Shahtoosh, a similar type of shawl made from the fine undercoat fiber of the Tibetan Antelope (Chiru), is banned due to the animals being classified as ‘Near Threatened’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna & Flora (CITES) included the Tibetan Antelope in 1979, leading to prohibition in sale and trade of Shahtoosh shawls and scarves.


In conclusion, Pashmina shawls are a luxurious and high-quality woolen product that originate from the Kashmir region of India. These shawls are made from the fine wool of the Changthangi goats, which are domesticated in the Ladakh region. The process of weaving Pashmina shawls is labor-intensive and time-consuming, making these shawls quite costly. However, their exclusivity and uniqueness makes them highly sought-after, and the certification and regulations in place help ensure their purity.


Based on inputs from different sources including newspapers and internet. Image: CashmerePashminaGroup

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