There is nothing more beautiful than owning a shawl that reflects the majestic beauty of the Himalayan valley. It is the Shawl from Himalayan region of India that makes it possible by capturing the bright color, geometric pattern, and warmth in its texture. It is a beautiful valley located in northern part of India. The place has abundant gifts of nature.
Since ages, the skilled artisans of the place are weaving beautiful shawls out of their creativity and innovation. Now, the popularity of genuine Himalayan Shawls is increasing all through the world.
Let’s take a look at some interesting facts that you may want to know about the Himalayan Shawl.
History of Himalayan Shawl:
The story of the Himalayan Shawl was started during the pre-independence era of India. It was the time when no industrialized clothes could reach the Kullu valley as there was no transportation facility.
On the other hand, the cold climate of the Himalayan valley pursued the local people to weave this beautiful shawl to fulfill the necessity for warmth woolen. Initially, they weaved Patti to cover the body in winter in the pit loom until 1936. After the introduction of the handloom, the weavers from another town named Bushehar came to the valley and started to incorporate geometric design in that pattis.
In 1942, Devika Rani, the famous Indian film star and daughter-n-law of Russian painter Nicholas Roerich visited in the Kullu valley and requested Sheru Ram of Banontar village to create the first full-length shawl. Since then, it is dominating the winter fashion shelf all over the world.
What are the raw materials of Himalayan Shawl?
There are plenty of raw materials available in the Himalayan valley. The original shawls are made of four types of wool that the artisans obtain naturally.
- Angora Wool: This wool is produced from the Angora rabbit of the local breeding firms. The rabbits are originally imported from Germany. These are famous for the long fibers of their coat. People shear, comb and trim the far once in every three months and spin Angora wool from that. The Himalayan Angora Shawls are made from this fine fabric that makes it soft, warm and sleek to feel.
- Merino Wool: This wool comes from a special variety of sheep called Merino that is known for its warm fleece. The wools of Marino sheep are cleaned and spun into the local mills to make the soft fiber. Moreover, it can be dyed quite easily and effectively and for that reason, the wool is tinted in bright colors.
- Local Wool: The local wool is procured from the sheep of Himalayan valley in India. During the summer season, the sheep migrates to the higher hills by the shepherds. With the advent of winter, they are brought back to their villages located in the valley. During the autumn and spring season, they shear the sheep for wool. The natural colors of the wool are black, white, brown and grey.
- Pashmina Wool: The most expensive and luxurious variety of Himalayan Shawls are made of Pashmina wool. The thread is hand-spanned from the wool from the underbelly of a special type of goat existing in Ladakh valley of Kashmir, India. The Pashmina shawls are super soft, fine and tremendously warm as well as trendy.
- Yak Wool: The yak has three different coats of wool to sustain in the severe cold atmosphere of the Himalaya. The down fiber of the yak is considered as one of the softest and warmest wool of the world. The artisans create different vibrant colored weft yarn to weave exclusive Himalayan shawls from it.
What is the Weaving Process of Himalayan Shawls?
There are a few weavers in the Himalayan valley who still follow the traditional pit loom process of weaving. In this procedure, the woolen shawls are manually made by winding, drafting, denting, pulling and adjusting as per the requirement. The geometric decoration of the border of the shawl is woven as the basket weave with the help of a slit-tapestry or dove tailing technique.
The artisans use the color graph as the reference of the design that they will weave manually. The Himalayan Vibe shawls are also hand crafted by the high skilled weavers to produce attractive looking warm contour.
What are the designs and patterns available in Himalayan Shawl?
It has been said that the geographic patterns of the Himalayan shawls are hugely influenced by the mystic-spiritual motifs of Buddhists. The predominant colors of this industry are natural grey and brick red. With time other bright and sober color combinations like blue, yellow, olive green, coffee, black and purple is available now.
The weavers get the inspirations for the motifs of the shawls from the surroundings, life’s philosophy, traditions, and religion. Many of the symbols of the Himalayan shawls represent Buddhist religion and belief. It is also recorded in the history that travelers from China, especially from Tibet who visited the place along the Wool road influenced the designers a lot.
Sometimes, it also depicts local flora and fauna on the border. The bright colors used for the shawl represent the enthusiasm of the life of the people of the valley.
You will find the following designs on Himalayan Shawls:
- Plain single color shawl without any design
- Four side border of traditional pattern
- Plain color shawl with both side Ek Phool or single traditional design
- Plain color shawl with both side Teen Phool or traditional three designs
- Shawls with full designs
- Designed shawls with both side El Phool or single traditional design
- Designed shawls with both side Teen Phool or traditional three designs
How to buy genuine Himalayan Shawl?
The growing popularity of the Himalayan shawls attracts many fake dealers who usually cheat and misguide the buyers by selling power loom made woolen shawls that are impacting the handloom industry as well. To avoid any such forged attempt, you need to know where and how to buy the original Himalayan Shawls.
While shopping for it, keep in mind the following tips:
- The shawls that are handmade in the Himalayan valley are expensive as it takes days to complete the process. So, if you get any product under a huge discount or cheap price, don’t fall for it. If they are offering you a heavy discount, then the scope is high that they are offering you a fake product.
- The best way to identify the original product is the Geographical Indicator (GI) mark that has been issued by the Government. Though not all manufacturers have obtained it, this mark is still the best way to find out the original shawls made in Himalayan Valley.
- You need to check the design of the shawl closely. If you find out that the reverse side of the shawls looks the same, then the shawl may be handcrafted and genuine.
- The handcrafted shawls seem coarse when you touch to retain the warmth.
- There is not much variation in design for the woolen shawls made in Himalayan the region. A single color body of the shawl has a border with colorful geometric designs. The designs are handcrafted by the weavers that are almost impossible to replicate in the machine.
- The colors used to dye the shawls are organic and non-toxic to skin whereas acrylic colors are used for machine-made shawls.
How to wash, care and store Himalayan Shawls?
It is recommended to dry wash the expensive Himalayan shawl to maintain the quality and glamour of the texture. If you consider hand wash, then use warm water and mild detergent and soak the shawl for only five minutes. Then rinse it thoroughly with warm water. Without twisting and twirling, use a towel to absorb the water. And finally, spread it to air dry the shawl to retain the glaze and warmth.
To store the shawl properly, use a fabric bag where you can fold and keep it securely. Make sure the cabinet is free from any moisture. You can use insect repellant to protect the shawl from any buggy threat.
The Himalayan shawls are a treasure trove that you love to add your closet soon. Get the warmth of this material especially during the winter without harming your style quotient. It is also a great gifting option for almost every occasion for your loved ones.