1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Shawl

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[ 814 ]

SHAWL, a square or oblong article of dress worn in various ways dependent from the shoulders. The term is of Persian origin (shál), and the article itself is most characteristic of the natives of N.W. India and Central Asia; but in various forms, and under different names, the same piece of clothing is found in most parts of the world. The shawls made in Kashmir occupy a pre-eminent place among textile products; and it is to them and to their imitations from Western looms that specific importance attaches. The Kashmir shawl is characterized by the elaboration of its design, in which the “cone” pattern is a prominent feature, and by the glowing harmony, brilliance, depth, and enduring qualities of its colours. The basis of these excellences is found in the very fine, soft, short, flossy under-wool, called pashm or pashmina, found on the shawl-goat, a variety of Capra hircus inhabiting the elevated regions of Tibet. There are several varieties of pashm, but the finest is a strict monopoly of the maharaja of Kashmir. Inferior pashm and Kirman wool — a fine soft Persian sheep's wool — are used for shawl weaving at Amritsar and other places in the Punjab, where colonies of Kashmiri weavers are established. Of shawls, apart from shape and pattern, there are only two principal classes: (1) loom-woven shawls called tiliwalla, tilikár or káni kar — sometimes woven in one piece, but more often in small segments which are sewn together with such precision that the sewing is quite imperceptible; and (2) embroidered shawls — amlikár — in which over a ground of plain pashmina is worked by needle a minute and elaborate pattern.