Sun, Sep 15, 2013 - Page 14 News List

Cashmere, Pashmina sectors unraveling in Kashmir

Kashmiri weavers have made highly prized wool shawls for centuries, but the tradition is facing extinction due to an influx of cheap imports and a younger generation disinterested in the craft

By SAJJAD QAYYUM  /  AFP, GRACE VALLEY, Pakistan

“The craft of Pashmina making has such a historical context, exquisiteness and uniqueness that it is a coveted product worldwide ... and GI will help bring it back to the people and the region it belongs to,” Farooqi said.

However, the younger generation in Ladakh are abandoning the Pashmina trade for jobs with the government or construction.

Last winter, about 25,000 Pashmina goats perished in Changthang in unusually cold weather when their fodder froze under a thick, icy layer of snow and land routes to the area were cut off for weeks.

Scientists at the Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology in Kashmir last year succeeded in making a clone of the Pashmina goat called Noori. The aim is to increase productivity of the Pashmina yielding goats and to send male clones into the environment to breed naturally.

Experiments have shown that the Pashmina goat can survive at lower altitudes, but does not produce the same quality of wool.

However, it is unclear if science can stop the market trends.

“Most buyers find it difficult to distinguish between a fake and a genuine Pashmina shawl,” said Mohammad Sadiq Wani, a trader and exporter of Kashmiri crafts.

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