History of Arts
It was one of Napoleon's former generals Allard, employed in Ranjit Singh's army in 1822, who established a direct link between Parisian Shawl manufacturers and those living in Kashmir. Napoleon's wife Josephine was so bewildered that she set a new fashion trend in Paris which spread throughout Europe.
Shawl merchants, on the other hand, were a powerful class in the City of Srinagar and in the Valley of Kashmir. Traditionally Pashmina is the Persian word for pashm, and Pashmina has been used to describe the traditional Shawl or Stole which is draped over the shoulder, whereas in Europe the word Cashmere described this fine fibre. A long process from selling the pashm, the raw material for the shawls, by the weavers in the market, its dying to its working a pattern on it, took each shawl months to complete. The Kashmiri families, the weavers and the traders, inherited their art from their ancestors and the tradition of this art continues from one generation to the next. Most travelers visited the houses of the “Merchant Princes of Kashmir” not only to get a shawl but also to get a taste of the Kashmiri superior mode of living.
The Shawls and the Kashmiri Carpets, both stand for ingenious perfection and are pieces of art. Kashmiri hand-manufactured Shawls and Carpets can be appreciated in terms of material, technique, ornament and imagery as illustrated by stylistic characteristics of different periods and cultures. The elements of the design mean some hundreds and thousands of hours of skilled work, they are like music, notes and melody or words in a poem representing the beauty of imagination.