SHAWL, STOLE, WRAP, SCARF ~ SHAWL TRADE DESCRIPTIONS
While shawl shopping, many of our lovely and enthusiastic customers ask about the difference between a Shawl, Stole, Wrap, and Scarf. Quite often, we find that individuals asking for advice on a “Pashmina scarf” or simply a “Scarf” style are actually looking for a full size Shawl or the smaller width Stole.
Following are brief descriptions of the professional terms used in the shawl trade to distinguish between the various types of shawl wraps.
| This refers to a textile woven with a particular dimension with the width defined by the loom itself, rather than a to a “wrap” garment sewn to a certain size. Shawls typically measure in the range of 39”-41” wide by 79”-84” long. At Hamsa Shawls, we refer to this size as a Full Size Shawl and of course, there can be dimensional variances within this range.
| This term also refers to a textile woven with a particular dimension with the width defined by the loom itself, rather than a to a “wrap” garment sewn to a certain size. Stoles typically measure in the range of 26”-28” wide by 79”-82” long. At Hamsa Shawls, we refer to this size as a Stole Size shawl or sometimes, as a “Wrap”. Stoles were originally created to be used for evening attire with the width falling from the nape of the neck down the back to the waist or hip line. By contrast and dependent upon an individual’s height, a full size Shawl will fall well below the hips, usually at knee level.
| This is a generic, marketing term used when referring to both shawls and stoles. A wrap may be either form of woven textile, or may be a stitched length of fabric constructed to either shawl or stole size.
Scarf | Scarves
| A scarf is a very small textile meant to be worn primarily around the neck. Again, we notice many individuals looking for Pashmina scarves when indeed they are wanting a Pure Pashmina Shawl or Pure Pashmina Stole. A scarf is quite narrow, with measurements typically in the range of 10”-16” wide by perhaps 60” to even 90” long.
is a term originally referring to fabric woven from the soft wool gathered from the downy undercoat of the Capra Hircus mountain goat in the Himalayan region of Kashmir. Presently, it is also produced by 68 breeds of goats in 12 countries. Cashmere fiber is from the same goats that produce Pashmina fiber, and is usually classified as such when is about 15-19 microns in diameter.
- Our heirloom quality pure Pashmina shawls are woven of the finest grade, naturally shed fiber of the Capra Hircus goats who roam the high steppes of the Tibetan Plateau including Tibet proper, Ladakh, Lahaul-Spiti, and Kinnaur at altitudes of 12,000-14,000 feet. This precious, rare wool is diligently hand gathered from the rocks and shrubs and also combed from the goats themselves by the amazing herdsmen who travel with these hearty mountain animals across the plateaus. It is then journeyed by these same herdsmen to the regional Pashmina wool buyers from whom it subsequently finds its way to the buyers and weaving villages of Kashmir.
There, exceptionally skilled women taught from childhood the secrets of true Pashmina are entrusted to first separate the downy undercoat Pashmina fibers from the slightly thicker gauge Cashmere and unusable dead fibers. They then artfully hand-spin this pure Pashmina into a gossamer yarn. Heirloom quality pure Pashmina fiber is so delicate at only 11-14 microns in diameter, that it requires hand spinning and hand weaving.
Hamsa Shawls pure Pashmina Shawls
originate from the most highly regarded producer of Pashmina in Kashmir and are of the finest quality, appreciated and acquired by notable families and collectors in Kashmir, India, Europe, Asia, and the U.S.
Textile Fact: The U.S. government does not recognize Pashmina as a separate fiber from Cashmere, but in areas of the world where this cherished wool has been lovingly gathered, woven, dyed, and worn for countless centuries, the distinction is clear.
Much of the Pashmina on the market today comes from areas where the Capra Hircus goats are ranched at slightly lower elevations, producing good quality Pashmina, but not as fine as that from the higher elevations of the arid and extremely cold Himalayan plateaus. This is the fiber frequently used in fashionable Silk Pashmina wraps.
is known by many other names such as Cashmere Pashmina, Silk Pashmina, Pashmere, Cashmina, or Pashmina Cashmere. Composed of primarily Pashmina diameter fiber, Pashmina Silk fabrics frequently contain some Cashmere fibers as well. In most Silk Pashmina wraps, the delicate Pashmina fibers or yarns are blended with Silk for its beautiful sheen and strength.
The Pashmina Silk, Silk Pashmina, and Cashmere Silk selected for the Hamsa Shawls evening shawl collection is woven by quality ateliers in Kashmir. Rather than blended yarns, our evening wraps feature Pashmina Silk created on handlooms with a Silk warp and Pashmina weft. Thus, there is actually more Pashmina by weight in a Kashmiri 50/50 weave than in a normal commercial 70/30 weave. This is a wonderful textile that has a soft hand and exquisite drape.
Although quality Pashmina Silk on the market today is still often hand-loomed and hand-dyed, this lovely textile is frequently mis-represented whereas shawl buyers are unknowingly offered shawls, stoles, and wraps adulterated with viscose, acrylic, and other lesser fibers. These "faux" Pashminas and Pashmina Silk shawls are seen in shops across the globe. In these cases, the sellers themselves have not properly validated, or may be unaware of, the content of the very shawls they represent as authentic Pashmina.
refers to an exclusive, fine to extra fine lambswool fabric woven from the most delicate inner layer fibers which have been produced and gathered only by very exceptional wool concerns in Scotland. It is sometimes referred to as “Pashm of the Lamb.” These fibers are spun, woven, and dyed in India by a Master of Shawl. Lambswool Pashm is soft, lightweight, warm, and offers a velvety feel to the skin. The yarns produced from Lambswool Pashm will vary in texture and finish. This is determined by the actual diameter of the fibers used, how loose or tight the twist is, and how thick or fine the diameter of the completed yarn is.
Lambswool Pashm is one of the most frequently used fibers for our shawls in a variety of categories. Our best quality Paisley Shawls are woven of yarns with thicker diameter of varying twists to trap natural body heat. A good Paisley Shawl
will become softer and softer with each wear, as the yarns and the weave itself continue to adjust to the drape and fall of the fabric. For its durability and appropriateness to support a highly embellished surface, the finest, most delicate Lambswool Pashm fabrics are used in the Hamsa Shawls Kashmir Shawl Treasures & Rare Finds
collection of hand embroidered, heirloom quality shawls as well as in our artisan embroidered Indian shawls found in the Embroidered Shawls and Wraps - Art of the Shawl category.
is an ultrafine, extremely sheer, lightweight, warm, luxury fabric created by the same Master of Shawl from India who created the Lambswool Pashm fabric. Its creation was inspired by the tradition of the finest of Shahtoosh shawls. Lambtoosh fibers are the Pashm, or inner layer fibers, from the very first crop of baby lambswool, and are gathered by only the highest caliber wool producers in England. This extraordinary, delicate wool is twice dyed, sometimes with a neutral color base, then with a fashion color on top, producing a soft, sophisticated tone. All dying, spinning, and weaving processes are performed with exceptional standards of quality and care in Northern India.
of exceptional yarns that drape beautifully and provide the softest feel on the skin are used in the weaving of Hamsa Shawls. While high-grade wools come from many different countries, most of the Lambswool in our shawls are from India, Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand. Our Lambswool shawls are generally produced in light or mid-weight fabrics, with an occasional heavier weight piece included in the collection.
used in weaving or embroidery of Hamsa Shawls is produced, spun, and woven in India and Nepal. Both of these countries have a long tradition of very fine quality silk textiles and excel in the design and weaving of exquisite natural silks.
fibers originate from a small Tibetan antelope, the Chiru, which lives at altitudes of 15,000-20,000 feet. Almost driven to extinction in the 1980’s and 1990’s by wool traders seeking to supply the fashion world’s demand for shawls from this rarest of fibers, the Chiru are now on the endangered species list in many countries, and Shahtoosh shawls have been banned for trade by the World Wildlife Foundation. Indeed, trade and production of Shahtoosh fabrics and shawls is illegal in most countries, including the United States.
The legendary Shahtoosh shawls of ancient and modern times were the prize treasures of the elite in Kashmir, India, Nepal, and Tibet. They were frequently presented as gifts in that part of the world to members of the aristocracy and visiting diplomats. The weavers of Kashmir zealously guard the secrets of weaving this exquisite, almost transparent fiber.
Hamsa Shawls is committed to supporting this ban on trading in Shahtoosh and to saving the Chiru Antelope.
Please, if anyone offers you a Shahtoosh shawl for sale here in the U.S., report the incident to U.S. Customs immediately.