Pashmina , the word itself exudes luxury. For the longest time, pashmina wool was regarded as a royal fabric, just like silk. But as it rose to popularity and more and more people wanted to have it, its fake and counterfeit products started to circle the market. The original Kashmiri Pashmina Shawls showcase exceptional artistry of local Kashmir craftsmen. The traditional art of creating pashmina wool is interwoven into the foundation of Kashmir's culture. These exquisite shawls are revered all over the world due to their warmth, softness and exquisite craftsmanship. From being a status symbol, they have come a long way to become a fashion statement.
To make sure you're getting authentic shawls it's essential to know the difference between an authentic and counterfeit Kashmiri Pashmina shawl. Let's go on a voyage to discover the subtle differences that differentiate an original kashmiri pashmina shawl from the other.
Feel the Fiber
A unique Kashmiri Pashmina shawl is crafted using the fine undercoat from the Himalayan mountain goat, also known as the "Changthangi" or "Pashmina" goat. The weavers collect the fur from these goats as they use it in the warmer months. This rare wool is obtained from these goats during the molting season, when their coats are shed. However, the weavers ensure that the wool is obtained by combing the hair rather than shearing it. The wool is then hand spun and woven using traditional spinning wheels.This is a very time consuming but equally rewarding process..
The first point of contact is the texture of the shawl. Rub the fabric gently between your fingers. It should feel extremely soft and light. This Pashmina fiber is famous for its suppleness. Therefore, if the shawl is rough and heavy it's not what you want.
Examine the Weave
Genuine Kashmiri Pashmina Shawl is a beautiful delicate, intricate weave. Observing the weave of the Pashmina shawl can also help you verify its authenticity. An original pashmina shawl is created using handloom weaving. As a result, it will always have an irregular weave. To test this, hold the Pashmina up against a light, if the weaving is even, the fabric is machine-made. That is something you must avoid! Take for example this Pashmina shawl from Taroob, its irregular weave is what makes it authentic.
Inspect the Edges
Traditional Kashmiri Pashmina shawls often feature an exclusive finishing technique that is known as "Sozni." The intricate embroidery adorns around the edges. They can include intricate patterns inspired by nature as well as Kashmiri culture. Take a close look at the edges for authenticity. The original Kashmiri Pashmina shawls bear the marks of skilled craftsmen in their distinctive Sozni work.
Some other authentic pashminas can be plain or without any embroidery. For them you can do the glue test. A true pashmina will not be able to hold glued products to itself for long.
Check for Natural Dyes
The traditional Kashmiri Pashmina shawls are dyed with natural colors derived from fruits, vegetables, and minerals. The dyes produce a variety of earthy, soft tones that mark authenticity. Beware of shawls which feature extremely vibrant or synthetic colors as they might not be an original Kashmiri Pashmina shawl. The natural dyes also give pashmina its own distinctive smell.
Feel the Temperature
One of the most fascinating characteristics of the Pashmina shawl is its ability to adapt to the body's temperature. When you place your hands on the shawl, it will quickly adjust to the body's temperature. Throw this exquisite shawl from Taroob over your shoulders and you’ll be able to feel the difference. The shawls that are counterfeits typically don't have this feature, and are cold to the feel. They are also heavier and rough against your skin.
The Burn Test
Some people say that the burn test is not definitive and it cannot be used to differentiate between an authentic and fake product. The reason behind this is that the burn test has not been backed by expert advice. Nevertheless, it's an alternative!
Pick a small piece of hair from the shawl and cautiously burn it. True Pashmina has the distinct smell of hair that has been burned. If it smells of chemicals or plastic, it's not genuine.
Inspect the Price
Genuine authentic Kashmiri Pashmina Shawls are an act of love. It takes months or even weeks to make one piece. They are therefore sold with a price that is a reflection of the time and effort put into their creation. Be cautious of offers that look too promising to be real - Original Kashmiri Pashmina shawls are an investment in quality and culture. Their price is also one of the reasons why they had their monopoly over the royal wardrobe only. Take, for example, This masterpiece from Taroob. This shawl’s royal elegance matches its price.
Seek Reputable Sellers
To avoid the possibility of purchasing counterfeit products. The Indian government uses GI (Geographical indication) Tag for intellectual properties like traditional handicraft items or food it ems. Choose reputable sellers or brands which are recognized for their authentic Pashmina products and which provide GI tag certification. GI tag is a sure shot way to know that you are purchasing an authentic product and your investment is going to directly benefit the traditional weavers. Such authentic sellers will be more likely to protect the integrity of this ancient art.
Recognize the Craftsmanship
Kashmiri Pashmina shawls are not just fashion statement pieces, they're a tribute to the skill and dedication of Kashmiri weaver. The intricate patterns, usually created by natural fiber, illustrate the profound connection between the work and the environment. When you spot such patterns, you will fall in love with the handloom. People who prefer loom products know the love with which the fabric was created and they appreciate the authenticity and rich cultural heritage it symbolizes. Original kashmiri pashmina shawl will wrap you in the mountain love and warmth with which it was created.
Embrace the Rustic Charm
Unique Kashmiri Pashmina shawls bear the rustic appeal from this Himalayan region. Remember, they aren't mass-produced and each shawl is an individual story. Hence, each piece will be slightly different from the other. The designs and weaves will be similar, not same. Look out for these irregularities when buying a product. Take advantage of the uniqueness, small imperfections and the hand-crafted quality which make these shawls masterpieces of traditional artworks.
When you begin your journey to find an original Kashmiri Pashmina shawl, remember that each one of these authentic pieces carry with it an important part of the rich, ancient culture in the area. It's much more than just a garment and a symbol of an ancient tradition that has survived and flourished for many centuries.
An original Kashmiri Pashmina shawl is a work of art. It is created using a tedious and time consuming process but each weave, each thread exudes a certain ancient love. If you follow these steps and pay attention to specifics, you can easily determine authentic Pashmina shawl and help preserve the tradition of this art. Therefore, when you embrace yourself in the warmth of Kashmiri Pashmina, you also embrace the beauty of the history, tradition, and culture from the Himalayan Mountains.