Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in The Social Fabric: Deep Local to Pan Global; Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 16th Biennial Symposium. Presented at Vancouver, BC, Canada; September 19 – 23, 2018. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/

doi 10.32873/unl.dc.tsasp.0064


Copyright © 2018 by the author or authors.


Emulation is constant in all forms of art. Debates have arisen regarding the nature of this imitation by Europeans of indigenous Kashmir shawls. The intrinsic Kashmiri aspect was the weave itself: nowhere else was a double interlock tapestry twill technique used. The unique fabric originated in Tibet: pashmina from the underbelly of the mountain goat. The shawl was strong, lightweight, and warm. The earliest Kashmir shawls were simple in design: the double long shawls and moon shawls. The earliest shawls had simple motifs, single floral blooms. By the end of the eighteenth century, this motif was compounded to many blooms or paisley, multiplied across the borders. Europeans discovered these simple shawls and transported them to Europe. They no longer warmed adult men, but embellished women. New local customs arose around the shawls for dowry, christenings. Local drawloom weavers in England and France replicated the shawls, amplifying the colors and design to fit European norms while embracing the singular dominant form, the paisley. The Kashmir shawls in India had a rapid stylist development throughout the nineteenth century. Kashmir shawls maintained their prestige locally and abroad, and after 1840 European merchants requested shawl patterns from Kashmir. In France, manufacturers constructed new looms to closely replicated the design of Kashmir shawls and tapestry weave. French weavers made jacquard imitations with embroidery of mid-century Kashmir pieced shawls. The weave structure reveals the origin of a shawl: if it has wefts that run the horizontal length it is European; if it is non-linear on the back it is Kashmiri. My goal is to demonstrate the deep local nature of Kashmir shawls, their stylistic progression which has been argued to be European in influence but is mainly not, and the complex symbiosis of Kashmir and European production, in the unique battant brocheur weave.