The history and origin of Cashmere
"Since ancient times cashmere has been known and used in the textile sector. Its legendary history in Europe, stems from the wonderful journey in which Marco Polo explores the immense Chinese empire..."
Cashmere is produced from the processing of the undercoat of the cashmere goat (Capra Hircus). This goat lives in the Himalayan region, mainly in Mongolia, at an average altitude of 4000 meters.
To protect itself from the long and cold Mongolian winter (which lasts 6 months and reaches temperatures down to -40 ° C), this animal produces a warm and long fur from which a particularly warm and fine wool is obtained.
"In spring, when the air warms up, the cashmere goat sheds and changes its winter fur to summer fur. In this period, the precious wool can be collected. Two methods can be used to harvest cashmere: When the goat is wild, the tufts remain and can be collected in the wild. The main production is done by shearing or combing the animals in an animal friendly way."
In the deepest, driest and most deserted part of Mongolia, the tradition of breeding the cashmere goat has been passed on from generation to generation. Even today, breeding has remained very artisanal and contributes to the subsistence of this mainly rural population. Between 70 and 80% of the world's cashmere goats live in this region.
Ater shearing, the fleece is selected, washed and prepared to be woven into threads and wound on bobbins. (Depending on the choice, a lower or higher quality cashmere-ply is woven).
One goat can only produce about 100 grams of cashmere. To make a sweater, you need the wool of at least 2 to 6 goats.
Cashmere is much softer, warmer and more isothermal
than sheep's wool and is easier to wear onto the skin (as it doesn't itch like sheep's wool). Once you have put
on a cashmere sweater for the first time, it will be very difficult to go back
to ordinary wool.
But why the name "Cashmere" if the material does not come from the region called "Kashmir"?
The processing of this precious wool originated in the “Kashmir” region
(India) and was later traded on the Silk Road where it got well known all over
asia. The name of the region has therefore become the generic name for this fabric.
A lot has changed since then. Indian production could not develop any further and was been overtaken by other states. Most travelers can still buy "pashmina" as souvenirs for just a few dollars in India. However, these are not made from cashmere like the originals, but are made from 100% viscose. Real cashmere is expensive in every country.
Read this article to learn about the natural colors of cashmere.