The history of Kashmir shawls has always been a matter of romance for centuries. While the Kani shawls of Kashmir have been well researched, their unique weaving and fine needlework celebrated, an important role and major contribution of traditional caretakers in the maintenance of these precious shawls by highly intricate and laborious work of preservation, restoration and renewal, has yet to be recognized
The intricately designed woolen pashmina Kani Jamawar shawls made in tapestry technique in twill weave came from Central Asia to India along with Islam and got further refined by local cultural mores, pushing the technique to its creative limit; in a certain process of appropriation and acculturation of more than five centuries.
The production of these shawls has almost become extinct. The socio- cultural condition that made it possible has changed. Normal production of these pieces is not possible any more. It is precisely the high value of these Pashmina shawls, virtually extinct led to rescuing these pieces from further destruction by ways of mending and reusing them. Now a days these kani Jamawars have been replaced by Pashmina Jamawars. Jamavar is a meticulous kind of shawl which is made in Kashmir and is one the most eye-catching shawls. The word Jama indicates robe and the word war means yard. It is so named as the Kings used to buy the woven fabric in yard and used to wear it as a shawl or wrap it around. Shawl cloth or long shawl is the trade name for Jamavar. The brilliant designs and the colors of Jamavar are quite impressionable because of which they are in massive demand. Usually the base of the Jamavar is wool with little addition of cotton. The spectrum of Jamavar shawls is very wide as these are put to innovation many times and a new, more exquisite piece if work is produced each time. Jamavar Shawls have a long history of excellence in designs, patterns and colors. These Shawls and Stoles have been knitted with the utmost care to create a quality of international standard. Jamavar shawls here are available in a enormous range of patterns, colors, fabrics and designs. Mostly the designs of Jamavar are floral; Jamavars are the traditional shawls which are more striking than the Pashmina shawls.
The Kani shawls are woven with special woolen needles called Kanis in Kashmiri, hence the name Kani shawls. Made by special weaving techniques one Kani shawl takes at least a year or two to make depending on the design. It is virtually a piece of art woven into a shawl. These exquisite Kani shawls have been a favourite of Mughal emperors. These shawls owing to heir extraordinary beauty and time consuming making the process very exclusive as well as quite expensive, purchased mostly by the very affluent. Over the years by the early 20th century the production of these shawls became a thing of the past. Attempts were made to revive the Kani shawls making but did not yield desired results. It was Hashmat whose persistence and enterprise finally revived this long lost fabulous shawl making art and by the mid-1990s the Kani shawls started reappearing in the market. Had it not been for Hashmat’s efforts the resplendent Kani shawls would have remained a part of history and confined to the few pieces in museums or owned by affluent private collectors.