"Of all Indian textiles none excels in beauty, color, texture and design - the famous
Kashmir Shawl.” The basic fabric is of the three types - Shah Tush, Pashmina and
Raffal. Pashmina is one of the world's most luxurious natural fibers, derived from
a rare Central Asian mountain goat called the ibex found in the highlands of Ladakh,
at 14,000 feet above sea level. Nomads living in the rugged and remote Himalayan
Mountains tend to the goats. Only those goats found about 14,000 feet where high
speed winds and freezing temperatures exist, possess a special undercoat of "pashm"
(wool).Other long, coarse hairs envelop the goat and conserve the delicateness of
the animals under fleece. It is this wool (pashm) which serves to make the shawls,
referred to as Pashmina after being woven. "This type of goat is probably the most
beautiful of all wool-producing goats," wrote S. Turner, England's ambassador to
Tibet in 1783. "It is superior in beauty, color and texture to all others." It is
on pashmina shawls that Kashmir's most exquisite embroidery is executed, sometimes
covering the entire surface, earning it the name of 'jamawar’.