Pashmina is the handwoven luxury that holds its wearer in a heavenly warmth. Raw wool or Cashmere is found in Ladakh. It is grown over the sensitive underbelly of an exotic species of goats called the Changthangi or Cashmere goat. The goat grows the luxury soft fleece in winters to protect itself from severe cold. During spring, a Pashmina goat naturally sheds its undercoat, which regrows in winter. This undercoat is collected by combing the goat over time and not by shearing. Each step, from combing (removing impurities and guard hair, and aligning fibers), to spinning, to weaving and finishing, are traditionally carried out by hand, by the craftsmen.
The major center of pashmina fabric production is in the old city of Srinagar. The approximate time put into producing a single traditional pashmina stole (70x200cm) is 180 hours. The craftsman works with his hands and feet like a pianist. They work by winding the yarn across 4-8 iron rods erected in the ground. Before the wrap can be erected on the handloom, it is to be dressed by the wrap-dresser. The stretchy yarn after drying in sun is again wound on the woollen spindle and then dyed. The washing is done by the specialist washer with the spring water of Kashmir. The piece is then sent to the master craftsman for approval, goes on to the embroider for the choice of embroidery and sells in the market as the grandest and regal accessory ever.
Pure pashmina is gauzy, and open weave, as the fibre cannot tolerate high tension. It has an elegant sheen and is quite soft and lightweight.
When these shawls rose into fashion prominence, they were marketed dubiously and lead to misprising the efforts and artistry of the craftsmen who weaved the premium quality.
Hands of Gold aims to create opportunities that bring the Kashmir’s rich and centuries-old heritage and culture to the world by uplifting the treasured skill of generational Karigars. It promises to mitigate this marvel of legacy in its true essence to the world.