In view of the tedious time-taking process of obtaining the Pashmina wool and its very rare source its high cost factor, as also the distinction that it has, appear to be quite justified. Produced a little against a huge demand may be one of the, or perhaps its most effective, cost-determinants. However, this was not all. The thinnest fibre in existence, to be exact, a fibre with a diameter varying from 14 to 16 microns, that is, just one-sixth of the diameter of human hair, Pashmina is not merely the goat’s wool but of the goat of rare Himalayan breed known as capra hircus. The down fleece, not the upper insulating layer of rough wool, culled from under the neck and the under-belly of a goat of capra hircus breed, alone has the softness that define the luxurious Pashmina fibre.
Capra hircus is reared for this fibre just once a year around Spring. This softer fleece is culled by hands after the upper layer of thicker wool has been removed. It is only when a capra hircus goat is reared on a height of 4300 to 4500 meters, not below it, that the requisite quality of the fleece is obtained. The annual yield of pure Pashmina wool of one capra hircus goat is approximately 80 to 90 grams, that is, it takes about four years for a goat for yielding the quantity sufficient for manufacturing a shawl. The four years period is approximately a goat’s lifespan or at least the fine fleece yielding age. Obviously, in its total lifespan a capra hircus goat produces just one shawl’s pure Pashmina wool.
Except the end-parts, some twenty centimeters on either side of the length, the entire field of the stole has been beautifully embroidered using a number of floral creepers consisting of multiple branches, usually three. Except variations in colours, some drawn in deep pink and other, in peacock-blue but framed alike in gold-lines, the pattern of leaves is almost uniform. However the embroiderers have used various forms of flowers, some being quite tiny, while others, quite large. They have been rendered mostly in deep pink but peacock-blue blended with them. Some tiny flowers have been rendered also in pure peacock-blue. The border comprises a running course of a tiny floral plant consisting of three flower like looking leaves. It runs along a ridge line running like the temple-tower motif. Pallus have in addition over a similar but more elaborate ridge line a series of two design motifs, alternating each other, one comprising three Paisleys grouped together, and the other is a flower-plant with usual two leaves, and a flower atop.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.