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A shawl is a simple item of clothing, loosely worn over the shoulders, upper body and arms, and sometimes also over the head. It is usually a rectangular or square piece of cloth that is often folded to make a triangle but can also be triangular in shape. Shawls are worn and used as a warm protective garment all over the northern states today. Kashmir has become synonymous with shawls all over the world. Shawls are used in order to keep warm, to complement a costume, and for symbolic reasons. One famous type of shawl is the tallit, worn by jewish men during prayers and ceremonies. The majority of the woolen fabrics of Kashmir, and particularly the best quality shawls, were and are still made of Pashm or Pashmina, which is the wool of the Capra hircus, a species of the wild Asian mountain goat. Hence the shawls came to be called Pashmina with heavy embroidery done on it.
Even today Kashmir makes a vast range of shawls, shawls for women like the kani shawl woven in kanihama, which is only a shadow of what was woven earlier, the double colored pashmina, dhussa, the men's long shawls with its woven border, and the very fine amli or embroidered shawls. The woolen shawls and pure pashmina shawl of Kashmir have beautiful embroidery work done on them. The price of the woolen shawls depends upon the type of wool used and the fineness of the embroidery. Kashmiri wool, known as raffel, is 100 percent pure and the embroidery done is quite unique to the valley.
Today there is a vast collection of shawls in market with different designs and patterns India is famous with their woolen shawls in endless designs and embroideries Kashmiri Embroidered shawl is one of the most popular shopping items of the state. The shawls are adorned with exquisite embroidery and are extremely soft. The main types of embroidery done on the Kashmiri shawls are sozni, papier-mache and aari. Sozni, needlework in a panel on the sides of the shawl, uses abstract designs or stylized paisleys and flowers as motifs. Papier-mache and needlework is done either in broad panels on either side along the breadth of a shawl or covers the entire surface of a shawl. Motifs consist of flowers and leaves outlined in black. Aari is hook embroidery that makes use of flower design for its motifs.