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Pashmina has been revered for centuries. Historically, the art of processing pashmina has been highly valued by royalty. Kings, queens, royal families, and nobles around the world knew Pashmina. They had a vast collection of scarves that were passed down through the generations. In the 16th century, when Kashmir was under Mughal rule, Pashmina was discovered.

The Mongol kings were astonished by her appearance. Later, the aesthetics of this art spread, and the French monarch Napoleon Bonaparte gave his wife, Josephine, Shawl Pashmina. In Iran, rulers wore and presented Pashmina gifts in meetings with other rulers.

In India, Maharaja Ranjit decorated his yard with hand-embroidered Pashmina scarves. The current scenario is not very favorable for Kashmir and the producers of Pashmina. Yet Kashmir is still considered the king of all Pashmina fabrics.


Some Pashmina scarves still appear in their original form. Over time, however, most of these expensive scarves are worn out and recycled.

There are parts of worn scarves that could be saved. These parts can be included in other scarves from the rafoogar and made into new configurations. Sometimes the client rejects certain parts of the design, even in new scarves. These discarded parts will be cut and replaced with a different design or model to form a new layout.

This technique leads to the recycling of many scarves and the formation of new patterns and shapes. The most remarkable among them is the “chand-dar”, or lunar model. It is a square piece of Pashmina with a round shape in the center and at the corners, a fragment of a late 18th century Kashmiri scarf is on display at the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.


In the 18th century, the demand for Kani scarves grew, and the complexity of the design increased. A complex Kani scarf takes two weavers three years to weave and blocks an enormous amount of capital for a long time.

To overcome this problem, the scarves from Kani are weaved depending on the design panels. After that, separate parts of the design are sewed together to create a scarf.
Rafoogars sew the panels with such precision, that it is hard to tell where the stitches are.

This shortens the time required to produce a complex Kani scarf from three years to 6-8 months. However, it also significantly increases the number of looms and the number of Kani weavers working on them. In particular, Ali Baba, a well-known rafoogar, decided to enrich the design and model of Kani with thread and needle using a chain-stitch. He was delighted with the result and continued to develop the whole layout by embroidery.

Later on, he additionally modified it by implementing Pashmina threads for embroidery. It revises the final results of Kani scarves and the chain-stitch.


The technique of Pashmina hand-embroidered scarves belongs to families who have studied, taught, and passed on the art through the generations. These skillful craftsmen were thoroughly making an exquisite scarf from Pashmina for five years.

Scarves with embroidery visible on both sides are rarely available today. These double-sided scarves, or “do-rukha”, were worn by royal families. Those exquisite scarves were a gift to foreign nobles and rulers.

The foreigners were filled with admiration for those delicate scarves with an elegant handmade that they became an object of desire for everyone.

These exquisite scarves were loved by the French Empress Joséphine, and she decided to present them to her friends at the royal court.


In the beginning, the embroidery produces a twill tapestry and requires a long observation to tell the difference between the two.

It takes a quarter of the time to complete embroidered scarf, compared to the Kani scarves with a similar design. Therefore, its price was lower than that of Kani scarves. When it comes to appearance, embroidered scarves are spectacular. The reduced time for making an embroidered scarf leads to a significantly lower tax than Kani’s scarves.

More complex designs of scarves increase their cost. Embroidered scarves with relatively lower prices began to gain popularity. These shawls are known as “Amlikar scarves” and originated in the 18th century.
The design that needs to be embroidered on the scarf is outlined with perforated lines. Then, it is printed on the scarf with the help of a fine powder in a contrasting colour through the perforations.

Once the tracing is removed, the outlines are visible on the scarf so that the embroiderer would start working. Nowadays, however, embroiderers can use wooden blocks with carved patterns to make the outlines of the scarf.


Embroidery on Pashmina scarves is made with the help of two types of yarn. They could be embroidered with the assistance of silk yarn or synthetic material known as “staple”.

As they are fine, silk yarns bring a more delicate and refined look to the scarf. Because the silk yarn is very shiny, it adds shine to the scarf.

Although thicker and less shiny, the basic yarns can retain their colour much longer than the silk ones. Once the embroidery is complete, the floats on the back of the scarf are cut with scissors giving it a clean look.

Thanks to this feature, even when the scarf is not designed to be double-sided, it is very difficult to spot the difference between the front and the back!


There are many designs woven on Pashmina scarves. Here are the most popular.


This motif is a little unique flower design. It can also portray a root structure.


This pattern is multicoloured and way bigger than Buti.


This motif is the size of both Buta and Buti.

It is a lot bigger than Buti but still smaller than Buta. This concrete model can contain double, triple, or even quadruple floral branching.

But they are always less than those in Buta.


This motif is striped and runs the entire length of the scarf. It can sometimes include Buti in the stripes.


This pattern is known around the world as “Paisley.” It was the dominant motif in most scarves.


This motif is the size of both Buta and Buti.

It is a lot bigger than Buti but still smaller than Buta. This concrete model can contain double, triple, or even quarter floral branching.

But they are always less than those in Buta.


Shikargah means hunting. This scarf pattern pictures jungle scenes with many animal and human figures.


Meaning chains, this is the design of the horizontal border and it covers the main motifs, such as Buta, Paisley, and others.


Hashiya is the vertical border woven along the length of the scarf.


This motif is denoted by a group of flowers and leaves coming from a single stem. Often the stem is accompanied by a root structure. Frequently the upper part of the flower has a sloping head, which gives it an asymmetrical pattern.


This motif means a complex group of flowers, sometimes the leaves are missing, but there is always a large pattern in the centre, surrounded by smaller flowers. Often the stem comes out of a proportionately small vase or vessel.

Among embroideries, many different models and designs appear. The flexibility provided by the embroidery techniques allows embroiderers to create many more motifs and designs which is somewhat limited by the Kani technique.

Embroidered scarves reached a peak in the mid-19th century. Embroiderers developed a new technique in which the scarf has two different colors on both sides. They were called “do rukha” scarves, which means two-tone.

The technique mimics the weaving of Kani scarves on the wrong side of the embroidered scarf. It is done by weaving a different colored thread through the fabric of the motif so that it imitates Kani’s weaving. The embroidery of do rukha scarves made with cashmere yarn ceased to exist in Kashmir after the mid-19th century. This term is not recognized in Kashmir nowadays.