Kashmiri Shawls came in two classes: they could be loom-woven in one color or in different colors (called tilikar or tiliwalla), and woven in one piece but more often sewn in small segments that are imperceptibly sewn together; or they could be ornately woven and embroidered (called ameli or amlikar). in which an intricate and elaborate pattern is stitched on top of plain pashmina wool.
Kashmiri Shawls as high-fashion garments were brought to Western Europe in the early- to mid-19th century. Imitation Kashmiri Shawls woven in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland are the origin of the name of the traditional paisley pattern. Shawls were also manufactured in the city of Norwich, Norfolk, England from the late 18th century (and some two decades before Paisley) until about the 1870s. The Kashmiri Shawls from Asia maintained a pre-eminent place the world-over for their beauty and quality, particularly the Lightweight Wool Shawls, delicate Silk Shawls, and more sturdy Wool Shawls, however, it is due to their western imitations that Shawls took Europe by storm, replacing fibers like cotton and linen, thereby making it one of the most important accessory pieces in garment history.
The Kashmiri Shawl is characterized by the elaboration of its design, in which the "cone" pattern is a prominent feature, and by the glowing harmony, brilliance, depth, and enduring qualities of its colors. The basis of this richness is found in the very fine, soft, short, flossy under-wool, called pashm or pashmina, found on the shawl-goat, a variety of Capra hircus inhabiting the elevated regions of Tibet. There are several varieties of pashm, but the finest is a strict monopoly of the maharaja of Kashmir. India. Inferior pashm and Kirman wool - a fine soft Persian sheep's wool - are used for shawl weaving at Amritsar and other places in the Punjab of India, where colonies of Kashmiri weavers are established.
Kashmiri Shawls reached their widest and most universal appeal in the West due to Napoleon’s conquests in Egypt and his alleged gifts of Shawls to Josephine, that galvanized their notoriety.
Silk Shawls with fringes, made in China, were available by the first decade of the 19th century. Ones with embroidery and fringes were available in Europe and the Americas by 1820. These were called China Crepe Shawls, China Shawls, and in Spain " Mantones de Manila" because they were shipped to Spain from China via the port of Manila.
While the importance of Embroidered Shawls in fashionable women's wardrobes declined between 1865 and 1870 in Western culture, they became part of folk dress in a number of places including Germany, the Near East, various parts of Latin America, and Spain where they became a part of gypsy dress - especially in Andalusia and Madrid. These Embroidered Shawls were revived in the 1920s under the name Spanish Shawls, a named derived from their use as part of the dress of Spanish Gypsies, also known as Gitanas. Their use as part of the costume of the lead in the opera Carmen contributed to the association of the Shawls with Spain rather than China.
Shawls are used today to keep warm, for added fashion to complement a costume, and for symbolic reasons at outdoor or indoor evening affairs where the temperature is not warm enough for women in sheer or off-shoulder dresses where a jacket might be inappropriate.
View White Stole’s entire collection of Cashmere-Silk Shawls, Stoles, Silk Stole Wraps, Vintage Stoles, Stole Capes for purchase, or rental, on our website.