The high altitude plains of Tibet, lived the goats whose fine fleece is spun into yarn and woven on a loom to produce classic, valuable and handmade Kahsmiri shawls. The rare and expensive Cashmere fiber was made from this fine, silky under fleece of the Himalayan mountain goat and since the incredibly soft coat of the goat is six times finer than human hair, it cannot be spun by machines, and is only hand-woven into cashmere products.
Historians believe Pakistan/India/Bangladesh/Afghanistan to be the true home of the shawls, while contemporary portraits also give this region some claim to be regarded as the place of origin for the shawls.
In Mid-14th century Zain-Ul-Ahadin is known to have introduced the art of weaving in the Kashmir valley. Later, Mughal emperor Akbar started the fashion of (Do-shalla) sewn back to back. He gifted the Queen of England a Kashmir jamawar shawl. It is known that Napoleon also gifted Empress Josephine Kashmiri shawls, after which it became a highly fashionable garment.
During the late 18th century, the industrial age bestowed global acknowledgement to this ancient art. The Kashmiri shawls became popular among the European in mid-1800s. British and French manufacturers aimed to adapt the Indian shawls and attempted to imitate the fiber by using different combinations of wool and silk. Manufacturing methods also created distinctive differences between the Indian and European made shawls.
A machine called the Paisley shawl was made in Scotland in order to produce shawls to meet the 19th-century woman’s demand which was an adaptation of the Indian shawl.
The artisan of Kashmir and their craft is world renowned. The skills of Kashmiri shawl weavers have been passed on through countless generations, who are now the masters of this art.