For years, it has been a common doubt is there any difference between Pashmina and Cashmere. As buying the Pashmina is an expensive affair, the customer gets a proper resolution before they make any investment. While searching online, you may come up with different ideologies. As the material itself is so ancient that many folklores have blended with the fact. From colloquial language to literature, we get to know about this regal woolen accessory.
To know whether there is any difference between the cashmere and Pashmina, you have to look back in history. A timeline of the fabric will remove all the confusion and will give you an idea about the chronology.
How did it start?
Since the Indus Valley civilization of Mahenjo-Daro, woolen shawls are the representation of royalty. You can get the depiction of woolen shawls made in Kashmir in Afghan texts of 3rd century BC. The Kashmir woolen industry was build by 15th century ruler Zayn-ul-Abidin after he brought Persian weavers there. Even the word Pashmina came from the Persian word Pashm that means wool.
The unique factor of this woolen industry is that instead of sheep wool, the craftsmen collect the fiber from goats found in the Himalayan valley. As the European first experienced this material in Kashmir, they coined the word Cashmere from there only.
So, we can say that Cashmere is something that the Western world can recognize where Pashmina is the local term for the same material.
Difference between Cashmere and Pashmina?
Although most of the time, we use the words Cashmere and Pashmina in a synonymous sense, there is a subtle difference between these two. For that, we have to know how the wool is obtained for the Cashmere Shawls so that we can have a clear picture of this. Unlike other wools that collect from sheep, Cashmere is made of the hair of goats. There are different breeds of Himalayan goats like the Malra breed of Kargil region (India), Changthangi goat of the Changthang plateau of the Ladakh region (India), Chegu goat of Himachal Pradesh (India) and Chyangara from Nepal. Along with these, there are the subspecies of the goat in Tibet, China, and Magnolia. All of these goats are found more than 4000 meters above sea level.
The wools are harvested from these goats during the spring when these animals shed their soft undercoat. These hairs are collected, separated, cleaned, combed and spun to prepare it for the final use.
It is the subspecies of the goat that make the main difference between the Cashmere and Pashmina. Cashmere shawls are those that are made of the wools of the Himalayan goats but Pashmina is exclusively made from a specific breed of mountain goat called Capra Hircus. So, we can say that Pashmina is a variety of Cashmere.
Another difference, of these two materials, is the diameter of the fabric. Pashmina fiber is thinner that is 10-15 microns and the basic Cashmere fabric has 15-19 microns diameter. Due to the thin texture of the Pashmina, it is necessary to hand-spun the wool and manually weave them to make beautiful shawls, scarves, throws and wraps with utmost care. On the other hand, Cashmere is easier to spin.
If you closely compare these two types of wool, then you can find that Pashmina is softer compare to Cashmere. However, only the experienced and expert in this field can make differentiation.
We can say that Pashmina is the finer version of Cashmere. No matter, you have a Pashmina or Cashmere shawl; it is your duty to keep the product safe as both of them have some exceptional qualities for which these are considered among the most luxurious fabrics of this world. You have to follow some basic guidelines for its care to enjoy this exclusive woolen material years and years.