Research brought up this extremely interesting fact. Curiosity got the better of me and I started digging around with my virtual spade! Sharing a reflection on the journey of the shawl over 2 millenia. I would love to know your thoughts!
The first shawls, or “shals”, were used in Assyrian times. Later they went into widespread use in the Middle East and were also part of the traditional male costume in Kashmir.
The Kashmir shawls woven from hair, were lighter and smooth with a natural sheen, whilst the European shawls, until the end of the 1830s, were woven from silk or wool which made them much heavier and less fine. The United Nations agency UNESCO shares that Ali Hamadani was a poet and Sufi saint who shaped the culture of Kashmir in the 14th Century, both architecturally and through the flourishing of arts and crafts. The skills and knowledge of embroidery that he brought to Kashmir gave rise to an entire industry that flourishes even today.
The shawl has been a common article of clothing in most parts of the world. The period from roughly 1800 up to the 1870s, when the fashion silhouette changed, was known as the “shawl period” because women in Europe and America wore shawls with almost all their clothing. It was a sign of gentility to wear a shawl gracefully. Working women wore cheaper, machine-made imitations. But all women had a shawl or two to dress up and cover-up.