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Weaving and Embroidery

Indias' rich tradition of handmade woolen garments vary in style, design, and technique depending on the region in India and the community crafting them. Each region has its own unique techniques and styles. Pashmina Shawls, Kashmiri Woolen Shawls, Kullu Shawls, Kutchi Shawls, Kinnauri Shawls and Phulkari Shawls are often hand-embroidered with intricate designs.

Some regions, like Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh, produce woolen kurtas and ponchos for both men and women. Woolen caps, known as "topis" are often adorned with vibrant embroidery. Sweaters are hand-knitted in various parts of India, especially in hilly regions. Rajasthan produces warm woolen blankets, adorned with traditional block prints or tie-dye patterns. Woolen coats are crafted in regions with extreme winters like Ladakh.


Kullu has gained renown for its shawls, which boast both simple yet captivating patterns and an array of lively hues. Kinnauri shawls stand apart with their exceptional intricacy and masterful weaving techniques that have garnered widespread admiration. Crafted from local sheep wool, these shawls are celebrated for their vibrant palette, intricate designs, and remarkable durability

Merino Wool  prized for its exquisite softness and finely textured fibers. This luxurious material is frequently employed in the crafting of premium woolen attire, encompassing items such as sweaters, scarves, and socks

Rajasthan has abundant flocks of sheep, Rajastani spectrum of colors have been embraced creatively. The state is equally renowned for its expertise in hand block printing, adding to its reputation for producing exceptional woolen goods.

Mohair - Angora Goats. Mohair is considered a luxury fiber and should not be confused with Angora fiber which comes from rabbits. Mohair is as warm as wool although it is much lighter in weight making it ideal for traveling. Mohair is also desirable due to its warmth, durability and beauty. Because of this mohair has been used to make garments for kings. Angora goats are bred primarily for their soft inner coats, which are generally shorn twice a year, beginning as early as six months after birth. Mohair is more expensive than standard sheep's wool.

Mohair is almost non-flammable. Early children’s Teddy Bears were made from mohair because of this property and because there is less allergic reaction to mohair than wool.


Pashmina Shawls: Involves animal suffering. Pashmina wool, sourced from the underbelly of Himalayan goats, is renowned for its unparalleled softness, warmth, and intricate craftsmanship. These shawls are typically handwoven and adorned with intricate embroidery.
Woolen Pashmina Blend: Apparel is crafted using a fusion of Pashmina wool and conventional sheep wool. This provides the cozy comfort and plushness of Pashmina, coupled with the ruggedness and cost-effectiveness of sheep wool

Sahtoosh Shawls: Now deemed unlawful. Shahtoosh shawls are crafted from the delicate wool of the Tibetan antelope, known as chiru. While these shawls boast remarkable softness and feather-light weight, they are exceedingly rare and held in high esteem. It's crucial to underline that the production of shahtoosh has been prohibited due to ecological preservation concerns.

Angora - Rabbits. Very Cruel. The production of Angora wool, extracted from Angora rabbits, involves significant animal suffering, the hair is pulled out, not shorn. Despite its exceptional softness and warmth, garments like sweaters and shawls created from angora wool are mired in controversy due to the inherent cruelty associated with its manufacturing process.

There are few responsible and ethical Angora farms that prioritize the well-being of their rabbits. These farms use shearing methods that are less harmful, ensure proper housing and veterinary care, and prioritize the rabbits' overall health and welfare.

Dal Lake in Srinagar


Angora Goats - Mohair

The Angora is perhaps the most common fiber-producing goat. Surprisingly, fiber from the Angora goat is called mohair. Angora goats originated in Turkey and are productive fiber growers, yielding from 8 to 16 pounds of lustrous mohair each year.

Angoras goats have long locks of fiber cascading down each side. These goats require twice-yearly shearing for fiber and the goats’ best interests. Angoras, and fiber breed goats cannot shed their coats. If they are not sheared or clipped, fiber can felt to the body and become worthless. It’s best to sheer twice yearly. Some people prefer to comb the fiber off as it begins to release.


Sheep Wool

Sheep herding for wool causes the least abuse of the wool animals. Wool is harvested once a year, in the spring. India is the seventh largest producer of wool in the world. The state that produces the largest amount of wool is Rajasthan.

The under-hair is softer and finer, enabling a soft yarn to be spun. This is preferable for making clothing. Coarser hair is preferred for carpets as it is rough. The appeal of wool garments is that they hold in heat extremely well. Additional benefits of wool include its durability and its versatility, as it can be woven into both heavy, coarse fabrics and lightweight, soft fabrics.

Karnah is the best fine wool sheep breed of India. Its white wool has traditionally been used for making famous Kashmiri shawls and other woolen garments. Due to indiscriminate crossbreeding, Karnah and all other native breeds of state have come to the edge of extinction.

Bakharwal breed of sheep from Jammu and Kashmir is famous for making woollen shawl.

Chokla sheep are considered to be the best wool in India and Rajasthan, hence Chokla sheep is also called the Merino of India.





Wool Weaving & Embroidery

Kashmir Walks is a company that champions the timeless Kashmiri arts and crafts to the world by introducing the otherwise faceless master weavers to their patrons. I was on a craft walk with him to meet the weavers at work.

In the vicinity, all have in-house looms. He invited us to one where fifth-generation artisans carry on old techniques of weaving by hand

Kani The kani sozni is an embroidery style where fine needlework lends the fabric the appearance of tapestry. Patterns—luscious flowers and twining leaves of chinar, paisley or ambi derive inspiration from the lush mountains and valleys of Kashmir.


Kashmiri designer Zubair Kirmani's own unique design is Khatamband. His label Bounipun has a series of signature shawls and stoles, deep-rooted in tradition and at the same time modern and beyond the traditional craft. His collections have already found presence across fashion outlets in France, Spain and Italy.


CARPETS: Srinagar’s downtown network of lanes twist and turn around the mud-colored waters of the Jhelum River. “Twenty years ago, there were at least 100 families in this mahalla (locality) who had the loom. Now, only two have remained in the trade. With anywhere from 200 to 900 knots per square inch, it is one of the most intricate forms of weaving in the world. Always handmade and knotted, never tufted. 15th century imported art from Persia. . The craft’s beauty lies in that detailed needlework.


Since 2016, dreams of rebuilding their industry have faded away due to escalating violence. Pakistani terrorists who want to take over. That period of unrest ended in early 2017. Sporadic violence still continues across the valley. It has become too difficult for Hindu families to stay in Stinagar.

The market is flooded with cheaper machine made domestic substitutes. Most importantly, the younger generations living in Kashmir are not interested in weaving.

“As snow blankets the valley for the long months of winter, villagers confined indoors wove shawls, embroidering colorful patterns by hand before selling them in the spring” “The situation has changed a lot recently with most of our weaving families shifting to other professions.”


Musoorie Wool

Musoori, a hill station, is a one hour drive up above Dehradun. In a small village outside Mussoorie the 'Himalayan Weavers of Masrana' live and work and promote the use of natural dyes on wool. We have discovered the idea of wrapping electric blankets around recycled 100 litre tanks and covering these with insulation sheets. These blankets keep the dye bath uniformly warm and produce dyed yarn of excellent quality. Also, as the blankets consume very little electricity, and there is no heat loss from the tank, the system is highly energy efficient.

Interested in rural development, mountain agriculture and in the use of environment-friendly technologies, Ghayur and his wife Patricia decided to create a website for selling the products woven by the locals. They set up their base in village Masrana, which is between Dhanaulti and Mussoorie and thus was born their eco-friendly enterprise - Himalayan Weavers - in 2005.

The villages around are old and rich in the culture of the Garhwal Himalayas. One of their shops there, near Musoorie, is very scenic. Their other shop is in Rajpur village in Dehradun.

Dehradun wools

Garhwali Kingdom was one of the few kingdoms that never came under the Muslim rule influence. The history of Garhwal is older than that of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Worshipping Lord Shiva, according to the great Mahabharata, Garhwal is believed to be the land where the Vedas and the Shastras were made

Close to 2000 Tibetan people now reside in the area.

Their main livelihood depends upon the traditional handicrafts of the Tibetan carpet, shoulder bags and woolen weavings like sweaters, socks and hats. Tibetan refugees in Dehradun are able to live well despite being refugees. There is a 'Tibetan Womens' Centre where refugees make hand knotted rugs and crafts. Nice shops in town.



Rajasthan hosts 20-30% of India's sheep and goat population, and the region produces 42% of its wool.

Travel in Rajasthan: RAJASTHAN TRAVEL Tigers, Birds

Rajasthan, India, is known for its colorful textiles and traditional craftsmanship. While many towns and cities in Rajasthan offer a variety of colorful woolen shawls, some of the places known for their vibrant textile markets and woolen shawls include:

  1. Jaipur: The capital city of Rajasthan, Jaipur, is famous for its textile industry and colorful woolen shawls. You can explore the markets in the old city area, such as Johari Bazaar and Bapu Bazaar, to find a wide range of colorful shawls with intricate designs.

  2. Jodhpur: Known as the "Blue City," Jodhpur is another city in Rajasthan where you can find colorful woolen shawls. The Sardar Market in the heart of the city is a great place to shop for textiles, including shawls.

  3. Udaipur: Udaipur, the "City of Lakes," also has a thriving textile market. You can explore markets like Hathi Pol and Bada Bazaar to find colorful woolen shawls, often featuring traditional Rajasthani patterns and designs.

  4. Jaisalmer: Jaisalmer, famous for its desert landscapes and historic forts, is known for its traditional textiles as well. You can find colorful shawls in the local markets, particularly around the fort area.

  5. Pushkar: The town of Pushkar, famous for its annual camel fair, also has a vibrant market where you can find colorful textiles, including woolen shawls. The market is especially active during the camel fair season.

Rajasthani hand weaving.

The beautiful Maru Gurjara Art developed during the early sixth century period in and around Rajasthan. The ancient Rajasthani art had the genesis of its name from the ancient Rajasthan and Gujarat, both the states had very similar ethnic, cultural and political aspects. Maru Gurjara...‘Art of Rajasthan and Gujarat’.

Fabrics are found in Maru Gurjar tradition. The Garasia women wear garasion, Mina women wear dhaniya chunari, and the Gurjar women another. So Rajasthan is the state which has made use of all the colors. Rajasthan is also famous for hand block printing. The remarkable and magnificent combination of pink, red, orange and purple, . The specialty of Rajasthan block printing is floral print and pattern which are prepared with vegetable color. Of the 862 spinning mills in India, 69 spinning mills are in Rajasthan.

About 70% of India's camels are found in Rajasthan, the vast majority of which are kept by the Raika. The Raika represent one of the largest groups of livestock herders in India, they have managed to thrive in a harsh, semi-desert environment. The Unt Maldharis, or camel herders, of Kachchh tend a total population of over 10,000 camels. Pastoralism accounts for a large percentage of livelihoods in Kachchh. For many years, Maldharis were making camel wool for their own means, as coverings for their camels or for bags to carry their wares.

There is an urgent need to enhance these livelihoods and to conserve the local camel populations. Khamir’s Camel Wool Project is one part of a multi-pronged response to these challenges. Camels produce high quality wool that is very warm, water-resistant and highly durable. It can be used to make textiles, carpets and ropes.

Camels are sheared once a year. Camel wool is coarse and has short fibers, which poses challenges to both spinning and the production of soft, clothing appropriate textiles.


Marwari Sheep is an Indian breed of domestic sheep. It originates in, and is named for, the Marwar Rajasthan. The Marwari is a small sheep, It has white body and a black face, both sexes are without horns. The ears are unusually small. The Marwari sheep is raised for its coarse wool, of carpet quality. Traditionally associated with camel breeding, a majority of Raika is currently engaged in herding sheep, often in migratory systems. The Raika depend on middlemen to market live animals and wool.

In the wool market, the middlemen are also from the Raika community. For the less literate, unskilled and low income farmers, sheep farming is their main source of income. The Raika are a Hindu caste specialised in livestock breeding and at home in the Marwar area of Rajasthan.

Sheep farming plays a major part in the economy of Rajasthan. The sheep are generally raised in small flocks of 30 t0 50 sheep. During the summer months the herds are migrated to neighboring states away from the arid regions. Sheep provide meat and wool products. They are used for weed control and for their rich dung as fertilizer for food crops. The Nitrogen and phosphoric acid are 2.5 times richer than in cow manure.

There are many different breeds of sheep in Rajasthan.


MARWAN wool: Most disease resistant. Very drought resistant. Has long life. Can withstand lack of food. Wool is soft and thin.

SONADI wool: Needs good food and water. Not good for migration. Selective eater. Wool is course. Good milk. Grows fast.

PATANWADI wool: From North Gujarat. Fast walker. Eats everything. Wool is long and soft and fine. Grows fast.


Bujodhi wools

As the early morning cold winter breeze blows desert sand in Gujarat's Kutch, weavers of Bhujodi village. By 6am, the sounds of the looms take over the morning silence. More than 350 weaver families start making shawls, stoles, sarees and dress materials for national and international buyers before the first rays of the sun touch the village in Bhuj.

Weavers of the Vankar community migrated from Rajasthan to Gujarat hundreds of years back. The Rabaris, who already lived in Kutch, had access to sheep wool and excelled in embroidery. But they did not possess weaving skills. Thus began their association with the Vankar community members, who would weave dhabla shawls used by Rabaris during the cold winter months. And the craft came to be known as dhabla weaving, now famous across the world for its traditional weave and natural colours.

In 1965 when Mumbai-based designer Prabha Shah visited the village and saw the craft. She was in awe of their designs and helped Shamji’s father Vishram Valji set up an exhibition in Mumbai. That was the family’s first opportunity to understand urban tastes and requirements. 

The Valji family began to make shawls for city dwellers using soft and light merino wool. The traditional designs in the red, indigo, beige and natural browns were loved by the buyers and the family began to receive orders. The word spread and there was no looking back. 

courtesy of: https://30stades.com/2020/12/09/bhujodi-gujarat-village-that-turned-nomadic-tribes-dhabla-shawl-into-global-fashion-statement-handloom/


Ahmedabad Saris weavers: Ahmedabad’s Ashavali sarees

Recently, they have associated with Gujarat State Handloom and Handicraft Development Association to promote the craft.






Varanasi's famous Silk Wedding Sarees.





article and website composed by elenagh@live.com

Avatar Meher Baba Samadhi - Tomb Shrine.


The Samadhi can be visited directly from either Pune or Ahmednagar. You need to hire a car with a driver who knows how to drive to the parking up the hill, near the Samadhi. Open to everyone from 7 am to 7 pm.

Information about Meher Baba: https://avatarmeherbabatrust.org/

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