What is pashmina?
The word, “Pashmina” has its origin in the Persian word ‘Pashm’ which means wool. However, over many centuries, Pashmina wool has come to be known as a special kind of soft wool that is produced from the hair of the high altitude mountain goats living in the Himalayas. The wool is mostly hand spun and woven in Nepal and Kashmir in the Indian subcontinent. It is also known as cashmere (variant spelling of Kashmir). Pashmina is also understood to mean the end product i.e. scarf, shawl, wrap, stole or throw produced from the said wool. Cold temperature prevalent in the area is the primary factor of the warm fine grade pashmina or cashmere shawl that is thin, light in weight, soft to touch and magnificent to look at.
Zayn-ul-Abidin, the 15th century ruler of Kashmir, is known to be the founder of the wool industry. He introduced weavers from Central Asia to Nepal and Kashmir in the Indian subcontinent.
Napoleon is likely to have started the craze when he presented a pashmina shawl to his wife. Aristocrat women of the 18th century court in France and St. Petersburg were enchanted by the regal feel and warmth of the pashmina wrap.