Kashmir Shawls

Shawl of pashmina wool

The production of Kashmir shawls was both highly costly and labourous. Beginning in the wool used to create this elaborate garmet  the production includes goat hair from Thibet as well as other alteraterations that can include sheeps wool or wolf hair. (Pwoell 33)

The importance of a shawl within victorian society was seen through the language which clothing and other material goods spoke to the world. Shawls classified a women as of good character as like the opposite of the use of lipstick prostitutes, the lack of shawl was the uniform of a prostitute allowing for the differentiation between her and other more reputable ladies.  (Daly, 13-14) The shawls were so popular and expensive in England that they could be sold within newspaper adds in order to fund ventures like a daughter's debut into society. (Daly, 28)

The shawl was also a manner for English citizens return from India to return to their “civilized personas.” This practice occurred as the shawls were traditionally worn by men around their waists. With the act of transitioning the shawl into a female garment within England emasculate those who wore these garment within India. (Daly, 28)

Calculations for cost of production of a Kashmir shawl.

With converstion the £300 becomes £32,458.11 (http://www.in2013dollars.com/1870-GBP-in-2016?amount=300)

Where other products which came out of India disadvantaged the workers the production of Kashmir shawls and the cost associated with them is entirely dependent on the skill of the weavers and embroiders. Where the cost of materials were roughly thirty pounds the cost of labour going to Indian workers was one hundred and fifty pounds. (Powell, 35)

Within one workshop there could be up to one thousand workers, and with the amount of exportation which occured the vast number of shops kept large numbers of the population employed. (powell, 42) The influence of the European markets caused the patterns which were being produced to change in order to better suit european tastes, these changes occurred with the help of agents who would inspect the pieces and patterns being exported and select those which were most desirable. (Powell, 44)

This inflation of industry ended with the Franco Prussian war and the Sepoy rebellion causing the amount of shawls in England and availability to French markets to decrease.  The result of this drastic drop in demand for Kashmir shawls caused the Kashmir Famine which lasted between 1877 and 1879 while many citizens of Kashmir immigrated into Punjab.(Daly, 34)

For a relitivly historically accurate portrayal of the proudction process, click here.