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SHAWL MAGIC FROM NEPAL TO PERU

March 17, 2015

Spring is in the air, and you’re more than ready to store your heavy winter coat, but the days aren’t
quite balmy yet, and you’ll need something to keep your shoulders warm this spring. Enter the shawl.

The shawl is said to have been born in the region of Kashmir in northern India around the time of the seventeenth century.  These scarves were typically handwoven of rare and expensive materials, such as cashmere, which came from the fur of Himalayan goats, ultra warm and fine, and which at the time was collected by hand.

The patterns woven into the scarves were often elaborate and remained in families for generations. They were said to be woven so finely that they could be pulled circular space of a finger ring. The expensive pieces were originally worn by men in India and Persia.  Eventually women also began to wear them and scarves found their way to England where they were considered exotic, vibrant and more color fast than anything the English had seen up till then.

The English who did not have Himalayan goats, combined silk with local wool and voila! Weavers could make shawls more cheaply and in less time.  Weaving became mechanized and eventually the jacquard loom invention enabled weavers to create all over patterned shawls. As it gained in popularity in the West, the shawl evolved to be worn in many different ways, sometimes even covering the head.

Take a look at our stylish shawls from Nepal and Peru. Our Nepali shawls are woven of natural fibers: warm sheep or yak wool and cotton and silk.  Typically handwoven, and in a variety of shades and designs, some feature knotted hems and reversible styles which make them unique and practical.

Some of our scarves can be used as after yoga wraps to keep the chill off or as a lap cover when reading a book or sipping a Guayusa Tea.

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Across the world from Peru, we feature shawls that are crocheted or woven and made from the very warm and luxurious fine fur of the alpaca, some blended with acrylic and / or silk to give soft drape and strength to the garment.

Many of the artisans are dedicated to preserving Peru’s weaving traditions and giving employment to local women.

For comfort nothing can beat the sumptuous swaddle of a natural fiber shawl. A shawl from Shamans Market will make a great addition to your spring attire.

Photos by: Leea Gorell

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