The Toosh Shawl - by Editor

Come winter and it's time to take out the sweaters and shawls. Some of us have spectacular wrao handed to us by our mothers and grandmothers, while others may be inclined to shop and add one to the collection.

Shahtoosh Shawls

These shawls are made from the wool of the chiru, an antelope found in Tibet. The chiru is able to survive in temperatures of -40 degrees due to a layer of fur very close to its skin. The chiru yields the one of the finest and most expensive wools in the world - The Shahtoosh.  

A regular toosh shawl is made up of 3 taare or 3 threads, while a double shaded one is made up of 4 taare - 4 threads. The double shaded ones are consequently thicker, heavier and warmer, and cost around Rs 30,000 - 35,000 (without embroidery), while a pure regular shahtoosh shawl costs around Rs 25,000 for a lady's shawl, and around Rs 50,000 for a men's shawl. 

The incredible part of the toosh is that it is so light in spite of being so warm. The wool is so fine, that even a large men's size shawl can be pulled through a ring with ease, which is why it has earned the name ring shawl. However, this luxury comes at a price, and not just a monetary price, but at a price far deadlier than that. A vicious network of poachers and smugglers exists to fulfill the demand for these shawls. There was a time when almost a million Tibetan antelopes wandered the land. This number has been reduced by 90% - and most of the reduction is due to illegal poaching. 

The sale of toosh shawls is presently banned in India and many other countries, but this does not stop the jet set from purchasing them through unauthorized channels. Socialites in France, Hong Kong, Spain and Italy are avid customers. Ask a dealer why the sale of these shawls is banned, and he'll tell you this: 'As the chiru runs through the forests, its wool gets trapped on thorns. This wool is then collected to make a shawl. Some unscrupulous traders may place an excessive amount of thorns along the paths of the chiru, leading to some of them getting wounded and dying.' However, the real story is far more poignant. The shawl is not made from the hair of the antelope. It is made form the undercoat, which can only be acquired by killing the animal. Approximately 3 Tibetan antelopes are killed to make a shawl, while 5 are killed to make a men's shawl. The animals are not shot; shooting them ruins the skin, so they are often whipped to death. Pregnant antelopes are more in demand as they yield more fur, and so the chiru are hunted down after the mating season, at the time they are likely to be pregnant.  The Tibetan antelope is now slowly reaching extinction. 

If you don't already own a Shahtoosh shawl, don't even think about going in for one. Not only is it against the law, but you would be endorsing a grave act of cruelty just to satisfy your vanity. Go in for a pashmina instead. 

Pashmina (Cashmere) Shawls

Pashmina shawls are also made from incredibly fine wool, though not as fine as the shahtoosh. The shawls are more affordable, and pure pashminas cost around Rs 7000 for a lady's shawl.  They also have a sheen to them, and are available in spectacular colours. Pashmina shawls are obtained from the wool of goats raised by semi-nomadic herders in the mountainous regions of Tibet and Central Asia. While toosh shawls could be embroidered, the embroidery rarely looks as rich as it does on a pashmina shawl. You can get most colours to order, and double shaded pashminas are all the rage. Match them to your favourite saris, and be the most elegant lady at the party. You could also opt for silk pasminas, which are even more reasonable. Get them embroidered with sequins or Swarovski crystals, and you're all set! Who needs a toosh to look like a million bucks?

Comments on Article

Name: arish
City:   karachi
Comments:   can males wear shawls on jeans
Name: Ashok
City:   kolkata
Comments:   ur site is so rubbish& full of nonsense.plz close this site to save us from the pain we r having by watching this.
Name: Kits
City:   Delhi
Comments:   Ashokwho told you to visit the site...Y dont you stop visiting it and keep your foolish comments with yourself..I dont know y some fellows are like you..damn foolish!!!
Name: saba al noor
City:   dubai
Comments:   i own many shahtoosh shawls didnt know how it is made ,i just know its most expensive textile best for winter what should i do
Name: DuendyGrouddy
City:   Bamako
Comments:   Thank you for another informative web site. Where else could I get that kind of info written in such a perfect way´ I´ve a project that I´m just now working on, and I have been on the look out for such information. watch movies online for free full movie english
Name: Penny
City:   ulDmGusqlfCPPPUTa
Comments:   Our church has a Prayer Shawl Ministry. Some of our mebmers knit, crochet or quilt the shawls, depending on the preference and skills of the member. It is a wonderful ministry and I have personnaly been the recipient of two shawls. They bring peace, comfort and the grace of God to those in need.
Name: hqvcwyl
City:   NGaRJzDDd
Comments:   SWsqPl fzxbaqdizmco

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