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It’s a Wrap: Your Pashmina Guide This Winter

Editors posted on 17th November

Shawl making is an art, though a fading one. To help us with our own collection of pashmina shawls, we got in touch with a connoisseur who collects, preserves and showcases antique, original shawls—Amteshwar Kaur Singh. Amteshwar has been working with karigars across the country for the past two decades, collecting antique shawls and retailing one-of-a-kind pashminas.

Types and kinds

Among the different kinds of wool like merino and cashmere, Pashmina, {derived from the Persian word for wool, ‘Pashm’}, is the fine, downy fibre that grows beneath the outer hair of feral Himalayan goats, and is the most popular fibre for handmade shawls. There are other varieties like shahtoosh {the wool of Chiru antelopes, which has been banned} and wool {the most modest of the lot}.

Like every other thing that has its roots or part of its origin in India, there are many kinds of Pashmina. Here the must-haves for your shawl collection.

Kani Jamawar 

3Image courtesy: Weavers

Kani refers to a particular way of weaving the shawl. Originally woven in a village called Kanihama in Kashmir, antique Kani Jamawar {kani—wooden needle, jama—all over} shawls boast of ethereal designs inspired by Kashmir, and other designs {like stripes}. Kani Jamawars have become a closet essential and have the ability to instantly transform a look. Commonly used motifs include florals and paisley, or the mango shaped almond {badam}, done in soft colours, with stripes along the border.

The looser the weave—the lesser the Pashmina used in weaving the shawl—the lower the quality, so look for tightly woven Pashminas. The new kanis are priced at INR 70,000 upwards and the older kanis start at INR 65,000.

Embroidered jaal

jamawarjayporeImage courtesy: Jaypore

A jaal is a hand-embroidered shawl, with the needle-work in silk thread. The uniqueness of a jaal is that it has to be done by the same karigar, because if the handwork changes, the entire symmetry of the shawl changes. A good jaal is so replete with embroidery and so dense that you can't see even the base fabric; you can only see the pallu of the shawl. A well done jaal starts at approx. INR 24,000.

Bordered shawl

As the name suggests, this shawl is hand-embroidered using needle-work {similar to jaal}, with the embroidery concentrated on the borders of the shawl. Bordered shawls have a way of making an outfit look formal, without coming off as elaborate.Try a plain red pashmina with a festive border, or a plain black pashmina with a brightly coloured border. The price of a good bordered shawl starts at INR 14,000.

Colour therapy 

Though colours depend entirely on personal style and what matches the rest of one's wardrobe, Amteshwar suggests a few that complement most outfits, and a few that make any simple outfit stand out.

For ladies, one black, one natural pashmina colour {beige, grey, off-white} and one vibrant colour {deep reds and fuchsia pinks} are necessities. You can invest in a red shawl with a festive border, or a double shade of scarlet and beige for that oomph. For gentlemen, black is a must, along with a burgundy, grey or beige.

A word from the wise

To explain why she only keeps one of each kind of shawl, Amteshwar points out that one should feel unique when wearing a shawl because shawls have never really just been about the warmth or the winter- a shawl is like a piece of jewellery, a statement.

You can get in touch with Amteshwar to know more at amteshwar.kaur05@gmail.com.

Feature image courtesy: Kashmir Box