Pashmina & Its History
Pashmina is a fine type of cashmere wool. Cashmere wool, usually simply known as cashmere, is a fiber obtained from cashmere goats and other types of goat. The word cashmere is an old spelling of Kashmir. Modern day Kashmir is divided in two parts, part of it is in Pakistan and the rest is occupied by India. Garments made from this type of wool were first only made in Kashmir, hence the name. This fine type of cashmere is derived from mountain breed of goats that are usually found in Kashmir, Nepal and Mongolia.
There is lot of interesting history behind Pashmina. Pashmina shawls have been worn by royalty and elites as far behind as Indus Valley Civilisation! They are also mentioned in Afghan books between the 3rd century BC and 11th century AD.
So what is the difference between Pashmina and other types of ordinary cashmere wool? The most important one is the fibre diameter. Pashmina fibres are finer and thinner (12–15 microns) than generic cashmere fibre (15–19 microns). This results in making lightweight apparent like fine pashmina hijabs and shawls.
Pashmina is usually blended with silk, and top grade pashmina shawls and pashmina scarves are premium items that have premium prices attached to them! However these days the synthetic version of Pashmina is also available at cheaper prices, and these are the ones that a lot of people will buy as it is affordable.
There are a few ways to tell if your Pashmina shawl is synthetic or natural:
- While silk may give it some shine, the fabric of natural Pashmina is usually dull. Synthetic Pashmina, on the other hand, is silk-like and shiny so you can really spot the difference!
- Synthetic Pashmina is cool to touch, while natural Pashmina feels warm, and is also very warm when you are cocooned in its softness.
- Unlike synthetic Pashmina, natural Pashmina is woven on handlooms. The hand weaving shows clearly near the tassels where the thread is not so closely woven.
- You can see through natural Pashmina when back lit.
- The fibres of natural Pashmina are made of animal hair and are sensitive to heat and water. But dry cleaning is recommended for both synthetic and natural Pashmina scarves and shawls so as not to mess up the beauty of the hijab.
Pros & Cons of Pashmina Hijabs
It is very difficult to say what is an advantage or disadvantage of a certain fabric or style because this is very subjective. Something that may be appealing to one person for a reason may be the exact reason why another person finds it uncomfortable. So we will list various defining attributes and characteristics of Pashmina hijabs for you to make the choice easier. Knowing these facts will help you narrow down what hijab styles and fabrics you should choose for which occasions.
- Well the first & foremost disadvantage of Pashmina hijabs for the common Muslimah would be their cost. Pure Pashmina is very expensive and is a luxurious item to wear.
- Environmentally speaking, Pashmina is a natural fibre hence it’s biodegradable, recyclable and if farmed ethically, sustainable.
- This is not a con as such but some people can suffer allergies to wool and thus Pashmina hijabs won’t be suitable for them.
- Pure Pashmina hijabs would be very susceptible to damage from sunlight, prolonged moisture and insects so these hijabs would have to be stored very carefully.
- Pashmina is a great thermal insulator, hence pashmina hijabs are great for winter wear.
- Pashmina hijabs generally are not machine washable. However they can usually be dry cleaned.
When Should I Wear a Pashmina Hijab?
For me, in winter pashmina is the best, being wrapped in its warmth, it would keep the cold at bay, just one more reason to enjoy those cold nights in with a cup of hot chocolate.