Pashmina is the Persian for Wool. It is the softest fiber found in the nature and is culled from the neck and underbelly of a rare species of Capra hircus mountain goat. Pashmina is cherished and valued for the simple reason that so little of it is produced. A goat is capable of producing only three ounces a year or 90 grams.
Cashmere goat cannot be reared anywhere. They live at an altitude of around 4000-4500 m weathering some of the harshest climates in the Himalayas. Each spring the goat’s silky insulating underbelly is plucked by hand. Extracting the pure cashmere from the coarse outer coat is a delicate & complicated task.
Unless the fibers are cleaned up to 97% purity before spinning, the unique texture of Pashmina does not emerge.
Europeans discovered the fine wool of the mountain goat about 200 years ago when they came across the exquisite shawls from Kashmir. So fine was the fabric that it could pass through a ring. They called it Cashmere, from the place of origin however the Kashmiris, proud of their skills were unwilling to trade the secrets of working with these delicate fibers.
To give that added strength supleness and shine, silk is added in different proportions to Pashmina while weaving.
Silk makes the shawl lighter and cheaper bringing it within the reach of more buyers.