Shawls of India



The term shawl is derived from Persian "shal", which refers to whole range of fine woolen garments. Reference of shawl is found in the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Atharvaveda and the Buddhist Literature.

During the rule of the Mughals, shawl making received impetus. He encouraged the weavers to experiment with new motifs. Kashmir was a main center of shawl production. However following the Afghan rule many of the artisans were forced to other areas. Amritsar and Ludhiana emerged as important center of shawl weaving. Phulkari, was used to decorate the shawls.

During the British rule, Indian shawls were exported to the western world. Popularity of Indian shawls with colorful motifs found ready market in countries like France.

In the 19th century change was brought in weaving of kani shawls of Kashmir. Instead of being woven as one piece, now the shawl was woven in long strips on small loom. There was also the emergence of amli or embroidered shawl in Kashmir in this phase.

Besides pashmina, kani and amli shawls of Kashmir, Kantha Shawls of Bengal, Bandhini shawls of Gujarat, Himru shawls of Aurangabad and Hyderabad, shawls from Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, and the other north-eastern states are noteworthy.