Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The History of Shawls – Wednesday Night Project 130110

The word shawl, derives its origin from the Persian 'shal', which is of ancient origin not only in India but in the Middle East as well. Shawls give warmth and have been used as a protective garment against severe cold since ancient times.
171-7162_IMG Another Comfort Payer shawl please click here for other handmade shawls etc.
The exact origin of shawl is not known. However, people were using shawls since a very long period of time. The Jewish men wore a shawl named "tallit" during prayers and ceremonies since long. In the first decade of the nineteenth century, silk shawls with fringes were available in China. These shawls with more embroidery were also popular in Europe and America during 1820s and were known as China crepe shawls. In Spain, the shawls were termed as "mantons de Manila" because they were brought to Spain from China via the Manila port. Infact, in Spain, shawls were a part of gypsy dress, known as "gitanas".
Shawls were also part of folk dress in various places like Germany, the Near East, Latin America, Andalusia and Madrid during the same period. Indian shawls became very popular as high-fashion garments in Western Europe in the early- to mid-nineteenth century.
Persian shawls were also world famous for their intricate designs and patterns. In fact, the word "shawl" itself is of Persian origin. Persian shawls were mostly manufactured from highly esteemed wool from Kirman goats. Apart from wool, silk and cotton were also used for weaving shawls of exquisite designs in Persia. Shawls were produced mainly in Kirman and in Mashhad in northeastern Persia. Besides, Tabriz town was also known for producing shawls of various types. Persian shawls competed in the market with shawls woven on jacquard looms in Russia and Europe.
Russian shawl history is a blend of oriental and European culture. It is said that Russian trade with Persia centuries ago resulted in the popularity of Persian shawls among Russian women. This in turn, initiated the process of shawl weaving in Russia. But eventually, the ornamental Russian shawl industry came up with innovative designs and finishes and became popular worldwide. Nepal is also known for producing Pashmina shawls of good quality since long.
Shawls were popular amongst Indians in variety of forms since ancient times. The history of shawl weaving is closely linked to the history of woolen textiles in India. Kashmir valley of India is known for weaving shawls from Pashmina wool. Among all other shawls produced in India, Kashmiri shawls are known for their softness, warmth and traditional designs. The intricately embroidered and hand woven shawls from Kashmir are popular throughout Europe, Persia and other western countries since years.

Pashmina is considered as the softest, most luxurious and best wool in the world. The warmest and most luxurious of all the animal fibers, the wool basically comes from the cashmere hair of a Central Asian Species of the mountain goat, Capra hircus, also known as shawl goat. The fiber was also obtained from goats in Tibet and Central Asia. Even in modern India, shawls are a part of traditional male costumes in the colder regions of the Himalayas.
The Indian shawl industry got international recognition during the British rule in India. Apart from Kashmir, shawl making also spread its wings to Punjab, West Bengal, Gujarat and some other north eastern states in India.
Here is another link to a lovely vintage shawl pattern and a fabulous blog.

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