The actual use of shawl is protection of the body against excessive cold and dust. It loosely hangs around the two shoulders, covering the upper part of the body. In ancient India as well as France and England, shawls played an important role in mostly women apparel section.
They were widely used and delicately woven to give an exemplary look that complements the dress. The famed Kashmiri shawls are main buys for tourists. Kashmir in India is the land of the famous Pashmina variety of woolen shawls that have extensive weaving and high quality of wool used for manufacturing.
The designs of early shawls imitated nature and their themes revolved around palm trees, flowers, branches, petals and rose gardens. They are weaved on silk, cotton and mixed fabric with net patterns or geometrical designs. "Naksha" is the Persian shawls design often imitated in Indian textile as well. Shawls still are an important product of the handicraft industry and are a family affair in many Indian localities such as the hills of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. Women are seen weaving on large silk cloths and soft jute as well while men are involved in marketing and supply. Thread embroidery work is often an ancestral profession. The net weave is also popular in India and today, they are famous as fashion stoles.
Uses of shawls
- A good covering in hill stations used by both men and women.
- Shawls cover the head as well as protect against excess heat, cold and dust in sandy regions.
- Shawl wraps also have religious implications. Muslim women often use soft black shawls as veils.
- It is an important fashion garment in recent times. College goers buy half-length shawls (shorter than usual ones) as stoles with western garments and ethnic skirts. They are trendy and cheap, too!
Types of Shawls
Listed here are some of the popular category and fabric of shawls:
- Kashmiri Shawls - In broader sense, Kashmiri shawls are of various categories, differing in designs and prices. The variety in quality of wool also makes shawls different from one another. Pashmina is the commonest buy for tourists in Kashmir and they are available on online stores as well. Paisley pattern is common to Kashmiri shawls.
- Jamiavar Shawls - These shawls and wraps are made from brocaded fabric and the floral design is most common. A close look will show heavy embroidery and Jamiavar shawls are often used for wedding purpose.
- Dourukha Shawls - The Dourukha variety of shawls is a type of Kashmiri wear with same designs on both the sides of the shawls. The color though may be different. A multicolored pattern is seen and the shawls produce a nice effect when brought under light. The perfect craftsmanship is producing the same designs on both the sides in both embroidery and weaving.
- Shatoosh Shawls - This is the most expensive range of shawls and is known for their fine weave. They are such thin and light silk cloth that you can make a small bundle of it. Creeper designs, brocade, net and floral prints are common for these shawls, too. The Persian "naksha" makes them even more elegant. A luxurious wear for your wardrobe, Shatoosh is still famous among English and French as well.
- Paisley Motif Shawls - Paisley motif is integral to Indian fabrics and around 270 years old, evolving in the 17th century. The tree, floral and geometrical designs on fine wool and even cloth make it have a look of tapestry. Mughal textiles largely followed the trend. On Kashmiri shawls also elaborate paisley work is done where you will see broad stems, large flowers and leaves. Later in the 18th century, the work caught up even in Europe where fruits also became a subject of the designs.
- Orenberg Shawls - Woven of fine wool that could pass through your finger ring, Orenberg shawl dates back to the Persian culture where both men and women used it for face and body covering.
- Silk Shawls - During the 19th century, silk shawls gained popularity in China. Made from raw silks, they hardly had any embroidery on them. They were fashion garments that became popular as China crepe shawls. Women wore them along with folk dress and these shawls were exported to Spain and Rome.
- Pashmina Shawls - The widely known variety of Kashmiri weave is made from Pashm or the Pashmina wool of the wild Asian goat of the mountains. The wool is of the best variety and Pashmina shawls can cost up to lakhs. The best wool is soft and the commonly seen colors are white, black, yellow, purple and crimson. You can get apple orchards, Mughal gardens, tulips and large leaves as the designs. The needle embroidery of Amlikar makes these shawls even more expensive.
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