this cold weather makes one feel like wraping up in a soft, silky shawl, and curling fingers around a warm cup of hot chocolate--while watching the fire dance and crack over logs in the fireplace.
if one gets into it, there are actually several grades of wool scarves to choose from. most common being lamb wool, marino and cashmere. however, there are a couple grades of wool higher than cashmere, if one is looking for a very smooth and light shawl, mainly for the purpose of accessorizing. these include pashmina and the next higher grade--shahtoosh.
pashmina is a very fine quality wool shawl that comes in a variety of sizes, colors and designs. These are usually sold as 70% pashmina and 30% silk shawls that can be found at any of the large marketplaces in the major cities of Pakistan--at commercial in Rawalpindi, Liberty in Lahore--or in the big name department stores in posh regions of the major cities in the West. pashmina itself is synonymous with posh.
real pashmina, 100% pashmina, is harder to find. for a shawl made with pure pashmina, it takes a determined and patient eye to locate it. these shawls, smooth and soft to the touch, come with price labels in the range of $450 to $1000, depending on where the shawl is sold.
when it comes to shahtoosh, nothing compares to it as the symbol of the wealthy, fashionable, and controversial. shahtoosh shawls are made from the ultra fine underhairs of a tibetian antelope, the chiru
. the antelope, few in numbers and already struggling to survive on scarce vegetation on the tibetian plateau, must first be killed in order to obtain their fine hairs.
demand for the shawls is high, as is their price. a women's 1mx2m weighs only 100 grams, costs the lives of 3 chiru and can be priced
between $800 and $5000 if sold within india. men's size can cost the lives of 5 chiru and be priced as high as $17000 if sold in western stores.