Varuna Anand, The Heart And Soul Behind ‘The Splendor of Kashmir’ gives us an insight about the history of Kashmiri shawls, sourcing and details of finest fiber, and after care of the classic textile.
Set like a jewelled crown on the map of India, Kashmir is a multi-faceted diamond, changing its hues with the seasons. An inspiration for so much art, music and poetry, Kashmir is a paradise with its alluring and majestic forested mountains which are tempered with miles of flowering meadows and its pristine streams glamorizing its picturesque environs.
The Mughals aptly called Kashmir “Paradise on Earth”.They also patronized the development of Art & Craft among the people of Kashmir, leaving behind a heritage of exquisite artisanship among these people and making the handicrafts of the land, prized gifts all over the world.
Pashmina has been termed as the finest Fabric known to the world and the art of embellishing it with fine Kashmiri embroidery does not just create masterpieces of textiles but “Art” in the form of a drapable textile. An art which survived generations primarily on Royal patronage, and till this date these are creations for a connoisseur.
Kashmiri Shawl is rooted in a complex tradition of craft that goes back at least five hundred years. Its uniqueness lies in a combination of factors that have made it virtually impossible to duplicate this product anywhere else in the world.
Handcrafted shawls from Kashmir are products of unique craftsmanship, the skill of the craftsmen and their ability for such extensive and intricate workmanship are their strongest assets, creating magic out of fine Pashmina yarn. Handcrafted shawls from Kashmir are a perfect blend of skill, art and total dedication and hard work of these craftsmen from the valley.
The Pashmina fibre is also known as pashm or pashmina. The Pashmina fibre for the Kashmir Shawls is obtained from the underbelly of the Capra Hircus goat generally found and now bred in the sub-zero temperature Himalayan ranges.
Nature has endowed this delicate animal with this special fibre to keep it warm even at 14,000 feet altitude in the sub-zero temperatures. These goats only shed their winter coat each spring and produce only 3 to 8 ounces of wool per animal and it from this shed coat, the Pashmina fibre is spun. Because this fibre is short in length (28 – 35 mm) it cannot be spun by machines, so the wool is hand spun and hand-woven.
The Kashmiri shawls are woven on handloom and then washed in the waters of Jhelum river to give it that ineffable softness.
With the colonization of South Asia, the British first brought this fibre to Europe. In reverence to its origin, they named this fibre “Cashmere”. Unlike Pashmina Cashmere is woven on machines, but these machine-made fabrics are no match for the pure hand-woven Pashmina from Kashmir, India.
The Splendor of Kashmir by Varuna Anand is a humble endeavour to bring the finest shawls from Kashmir to the admirers of this art and to create an awareness of the rich heritage of this venerated textile among the youngsters as well.
We strongly believe classic and traditional shawls from Kashmir are fast catching the eyes of the younger generation as well, who no longer look at that them as classic textiles to be used by their parents but also want to add them to their own wardrobes. From a casual drape over jeans and western attire. To a classic drape on formal Indian wear, a shawl fits beautifully on both.
To maintain these classic textiles one has to be careful to keep them away from moisture and store them in soft cotton malmal bags or fabric over the summers. A word of caution, do place a small pouch of cloves or camphor close to where the shawls are stored over the summer. Never directly on the shawl as this could leave a stain of the clove oil.