Pashmina was gotten from the word “pashm”. Pashm is a Persian word which means “soft gold” It is acknowledged for it beauty, uniqueness and extravagant nature. The pashmina wools are used in the production of shawls and scarves. These wools are usually gotten from a breed of Capra hircus goat known as the changthangi usually found in ladakh region of India.
The wools when derived are stretched and cleansed to remove dirt and impurities. It is then soaked into a rice and water mixture for awhile to give a very soft texture. Then it goes through the spinning process which is done manually. The wheel used in spinning the wool is also known as charkha.
The manual spinning is a time consuming process that needs to be performed with maximum carefulness and cautiousness. The power looms are usually not used to weave a pashmina (1) wool due to the delicacy of the wool. Therefore, the process of weaving is done using a shuttle.
While using a handlooms, a shawl takes four days before completion. Just like spinning, dyeing is also done manually. The use of Azo dyes are highly prohibited when dyeing a pashmina shawl. Therefore, only Azo-free and metal dyes are used to make a complete beautiful shawl or scarf. The dyeing is usually done in a temperature less than 100°c for an hour
The Pashmina Goat (Changthangi)
Another name for the pashmina goat is the changthangi. It has two layer of coat consisting of a thick undercoat and an outer coat which is also thick and a little bit wavy but sometimes straight. These goats are mostly white while some are black grey or brown. They have short or medium tail with a medium sized body usually between 27 and 26 inches which is similar to it height.
An adult male changthangi weighs about 20.37kg while the female changthangi weighs 19.75kg. The horns at curved and it usually move upward. The lifespan of the changthangi goat lies between 10 to 12 years. During a spring season, the goat naturally shed it outer coat which regrows in winter and uses it to protect themselves from extremely cold temperature.
Annually, 3 to 8 ounce of pashmina is derived from a single changthangi goat. The undercoat is collected by combing the goat and not by shearing as it is done with other fine wool.
The Himalayan Goat
The large even-toed Himalayan goat is related to the wild goat. It is mostly found in rough wooded hills, mountains and pastures of Himalayan from India and Nepal. It is a type of wild goat from the bovid family. There is a high decrease in the population of Himalayan goat in the wild due to loss of it natural abode, competition for food with other herbivorous animals and continuous hunting of the breed.
The Himalayan goat is declared as a nearly threatened breed. Therefore, it becomes endangered in the future. These goats usually attain 3 to 4.7 feet in length, 2.1 to 3.3 feet in height and weighs 79 to 189 pounds. An adult male Himalayan goat is usually larger than the females. The goats has a thick undercoats with a thick, reddish brown woolly coat which keeps the body warm during the cold winter.
The male Himalayan goat usually posses an attractive mane around the neck. During the spring season, the coat becomes lighter than its usual color. It has a small head which has small pointy ears and a large eyes. It has an even-sized hoof with short legs which enables easy climbing over the smooth and rough rocks on the hillsides. The natural predators of Himalayan goats which sees them as prey are the snow leopard.