For centuries the Pashmina shawl has been one of the major charms of Kashmir. But with cheap imitations of these Pashmina shawls flooding the local markets, the ancient trade is threatened. So the Animal and Sheep Husbandry department of J&K has initiated some incentive schemes among nomads of Kargil and Ladakh region.
The Pashmina shawls have been woven on handlooms from wool hand-spun from the shaggy coat of a goat, which lives in the heights of the Himalayas in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir state. Women mostly spin and men weave the delicate yarn into warm, soft scarves and shawls, which are often embroidered.
Pashmina goats are given at subsidised cost to farmers to set up small goat rearing units. This scheme is helping in increasing the number of Pashmina goats in region said Gulam Hyder a farmer in Zanaskar.
According to Gulam Hyder , he got five goats two years back from sheep department and now the number of goats has reached to 15. He gets half kilo Pashmina from each goat in a year which almost cost Rs 1500 and as the number of goats will increase his income will automatically go up. He got Pashmina goat for Rs 3000 from department while in open market it cost Rs 6000 to 8000.
Hundreds of Pashmina weavers, however, had felt compelled to take other professions, as cheap and machine-made shawls available around are affecting the demand for the original pieces and particularly the duplicate items available from Amritsar.
Munir Ahmad, a shawl dealer from Srinagar said that the fake shawls especially from Amritsar have put Pashmina trade into the doldrums.
He added that thousands of people are associated with this trade. Ladies spin the wool, the men weave the shawls and then there are others who do embroidery on these shawls and the local hawkers sell these shawls. But they have been facing problems due to the fakes from Amritsar. Besides, the Pashmina shawl industry has also suffered government neglect at times, adding to the worries of local weavers.
But now the efforts made by the Jammu and Kashmir government to revive the most job oriented sector gives a ray of hope to the Kashmir valley.
Revival of Pashmina industry can be an alternative for the increasing number of unemployed in the state, and it is the industry which is cottage based and provides employment for people in rural and urban areas without involving large infrastructure.
Pashmina is derived from Persian word Pashm and Mina, Pashm means soft and Mina means hair.Pashmina fibre has a unique position among animal fibres for its fineness, warmth, durability, lightness, softness and ability to absorb dyes and moisture easily.
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