My love for traditional textiles in many of my posts are well known. An ardent fan of Indian Wear and celebrating textiles in the fashion closet for Men has a special focus on Shawls which is what this post is all about. For those uninitiated and its many other names ,the shawl (from Persianlang-Urdu شال‎‎ shāl, which may be from Hindiदुशाला duśālā, ultimately from Sanskrit: शाटी is a simple item of clothing, loosely worn over the shoulders, upper body and arms, and sometimes also over the head. It is usually a rectangular or square piece of textile, which is often folded to make a triangle but can also be triangular in shape. Shawl and pashmina name comes from Kashmir, but it originates from Hamedan Persia. Sources consider Cashmere crafts were introduced by Sayeed Ali Hamadani . In the 14th century Mir Ali Hamadani came to Ladakh, home land of pashmina goats where, for the first time in history he found that the Ladakhi kashmiri goats produced soft wool. He took some of this goat wool and made socks which he gave as a gift to king of Kashmir, Sultan Qutabdin. Afterwards Hamadani suggested to the king that they start a shawl weaving industry in Kashmir using this wool. That is how pashmina shawls began!

Although the history is far and wide and there are many facts on how the various range of shawls originated but we are talking here mainly in brief of some of my personal collection in some of the most popular ranges of these woven textiles


One of the most coveted shawl ranges is the Jamavar which comes in a variety of wollen, silks , pashimnas and even combinations of different materials. As the original designs are very expensive they often come in many machine made woolen versions which is what this is a sample of as shown here but with a combination of many traditional patterns that are seen in this form of shawls.

Jamawar, or grown piece, is a special type of shawl made in Kashmir.”Jama” means robe and “war/var” is chest and metaphorically body. The best quality of Jamawar is built with Pashmina. The brocaded parts are woven in similar threads of silk or polyester. Most of the designs seen today are floral with a large play of paisleys with the kairy as the predominant motif. Historically handmade items, some shawls took a couple of decades to complete; consequently, original Jamawar shawls are highly valued. Modern, machine-made Jamawar prints, produced in cities such as Kashmir and other parts of PakistanPunjab cost less to buy but handmade Jamawar are very expensive

The example shown here is a good indication, of how many new designs are combined into the old. Here one can see the modern play of the running stripes of the design with inbuilt motif references of Mughal architectural features. The classic paisleys, florals and the rich color palette is one of the reasons why I was drawn to this rather contemporary design version of the traditional Jamavar.


Shawls are sourced from Local Markets during my journeys in the Jammu State.


From the historical valleys of Kashmir we move to the fields of Punjab, which is well known for its Phulkaris. The embroidery is done with floss silk thread on coarse hand woven cotton fabric. Geometrical patterns are usually embroidered on the Phulkaris. Phulkaris and Baghs were worn by people all over Punjab during marriage festivals and other joyous occasions. They were embroidered by the women for their own use and use of other family members and were not for sale in the market. Thus, it was purely a domestic art which not only satisfied their inner urge for creation but brought color into day-to-day life. In a way, it was true folk art. This eventually made its way into more commercial markets in a variety of handicraft items and also began to be used in fashionable design in conversions of clothing items for all, home linen design and  handicraft products.

Seen here is one of the most typical samples of the phulkari work. the triangular pattern combinations in a black and one a highlight color shows the great level of detail in the way the weaving is done. Typically often the edging is done with a gold tissue border which gives the detail an added charm. Seen here in the images in a Purple with Black & White Gold combination in the same geometrical pattern often seen in most such shawls. This is one of the most commonly known motifs for Phulkaris.


Both these drapes were sourced from Handicraft local markets in Amritsar.


This Stole designed drape though worn like a shawl is a modern design version wherein many traditional border designs have been stitched together to create a design which is exclusive and echo royalty on so many levels. Inspired from Banarasi saree this stole has been improvised from older designs to create a special celebration of this traditional textile.

A little history here, a Banarasi saree is a saree made in Varanasi, a city which is also called Benares or Banaras. The sarees/ silk textiles are among the finest in India and are known for their gold and silver brocade or zari, fine silk and opulent embroidery. The sarees are made of finely woven silk and are decorated with intricate design, and, because of these engravings, are relatively heavy. Their special characteristics are Mughal inspired designs such as intricate intertwining floral and foliate motifs, kalga and bel, a string of upright leaves called jhallar at the outer, edge of border is a characteristic of these sarees. Other features are gold work, compact weaving, figures with small details, metallic visual effects, pallus, jal (a net like pattern), and mina work.


Seen here is the very traditional yellow gold body with a running darker motif placed all overs the main surface. The borders are in some of the most well knows color designs like the floral silver against the fuschia royal pink, the emerald green with the royal “procession of the dancing figures” and the “black and gold camel” procession design. The dark maroon with the running borders come as contrasts . The beauty of this design is that every side has a different pattern edge which creates interest as the garment tends to fold and catch the viewer eyes.

The stole is designed by the well known textile&fashion Designer Tuhina Goyal from the HOUSE OF TUHINA. Do check more about them on….


The traditional Gamosa patterns and concept here has been transformed into a full scale shawl drape . Using the concept which is normally seen in the red and white in cottons on the borders, this design has been taken with the weave across the entire body of the shawl.

The Gamosa (Assamese: গামোচা) is an article of great significance for the people of Assam. It is generally a white rectangular piece of cloth with primarily a red border on three sides and red woven motifs on the fourth (in addition to red, other colors are also sometimes used). Although cotton yarn is the most common material for making/weaving gamosas, there are special occasion ones made from Pat silk. The word gamosa is derived from the Kamrupi wordgaamasa (gaama+chadar), the cloth used to cover the Bhagavad Purana at the altar.

The design that is seen here is actually a combination of an entire weft of the traditional paisleys, floral and leaf patterns with line thread work which runs across the entire body. A contemporary work this is designed to highlight the traditional intent of the Gamosa in a new interpretation which shows the full body work with the more typical lined edging which comes across the ends.


These two shawls are modern interpretations of weaves from Gujarat. There are inspirations from the Tangaliya Shawl motifs which is a handwoven, GI protected shawl and textile made by the Dangasia community from Schedule Caste in Gujarat, IndiaThe 700-year-old indigenous craft is native to the Surendranagar district, of Saurashtra-region of the state. Traditional variations like Ramraj, Charmalia, Dhunslu, and Lobdi are woven in village clusters of Dedara, Vastadi, Godavari and Vadla in the district. The textile is usually used as shawl and wraparound skirt by women of the Bharwad shepherd community of the WankanerAmreliDehgamSurendranagar, Joravarnagar, BotadBhavnagar and Kutch areas. Although the designs here are mixed into different blends of concepts from all these regions but the broders and the dotted motifs is often seen in the Tangaliya tradition of detailing from these regions.


The details of the Monochromatic  Black&white and the colors shows how the ranges of motifs can play across the region and create a completely different range of options. The details that one sees especially in the edge details, the play of the threadwork , patterns in these two varied palettes is an amazing showcase of the versatility of the community in they way they create textiles.

Shawls sourced from the Craftsman Fair held by the LivingLightly


And finally one of the most amazing works from the Kutch Region is this traditional weave in wool with local pattern thread and mirrorwork with sequins. The Kutch Embroidery is a handicraft and textile signature art tradition of the tribal community of Kutch District in Gujarat, India. This embroidery with its rich designs has made a notable contribution to the Indian embroidery traditions. The embroidery, practiced normally by women is generally done on fabrics of cotton, in the form of a net using cotton or silk threads. In certain patterns, it is also crafted over silk and satin. The types of stitches adopted are “square chain, double buttonhole, pattern darning, running stitch, satin and straight stitches”. The signature effect of the colorful embroidery sparkles when small mirrors called abhla are sewn over the geometrically shaped designs. Depending on the tribal sub groups of RabariGarasia Jat, and Mutava involved with this craft work many hand embroidered ethnic styles have evolved.

These six styles: Suf, khaarek, paako, Rabari, Garasia Jat, and Mutava are the most common ones that one hears about in this region.

This shawl is one of my personal favorites due to the nature of how the colors and patterns come together. Each pattern has a regional significance in the the KUTCH region it is astounding the way they all come together. For those interested in Bollywood movies do check images for many of the costume designs from the wardrobe designs by Anju Modi for Ram Leela directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Much of the details on the both the lead roles show essence from the region of this embroidery and there applications are quite the marvel.

Although there is much to learn and read about any of these amazing traditional weaving ideas and patterns and I hope that through this series of editorials I can bring you closer to the rich heritage of Shawls& Drapes across the world .

Have a lovely winter !!