A shawl is usually referred to a rectangular or square piece of cloth that is designed to be loosely worn around the neck, shoulders, upper body and arms, and sometimes also over the head. The English word "shawl" has been derived from the Persian word "shal", which again came from the Sanskrit word, "sati", that means "cloth". Though the exact origin of shawl is not known but, people have been using shawls since a very long period of time and it is believed that the garment might have its origin not only in India, but also in the Middle East as well. Apart from traditional style and look, shawls give warmth and have been used as a protective garment against severe cold since ancient times.
Shawls are not only used to keep the body warm, but also used to complement a costume and also for symbolic reasons. Many cultures have a tradition of producing shawls, ranging from the "tallit" of the Jews to the famous Pashminas of Kashmir. Shawls were also a part of the folk dress in various places like Germany, the Near East, Latin America, Andalusia and Madrid during certain periods of time. Indian shawls and Persian shawls are among the most popular and famous shawls in the world.
Persian shawls are well known for their intricate designs and patterns which are mostly manufactured from highly esteemed wool from Kirman goats, whereas, Indian shawls are well known for their beauty and quality. Among all other shawls produced in India, Kashmiri shawls occupy a pre-eminent place among textile industry. Kashmiri shawls are known for weaving from Pashmina wool. Pashmina is considered as the softest, most luxurious and best wool in the world. The warmest and most luxurious of all the animal fibers, the wool basically comes from the cashmere hair of a Central Asian Species of the mountain goat, colloquially known as shawl goat.
Apart from wool, silk and cotton are also used for weaving shawls of exquisite designs. In order to choose the perfect shawl, you must know what your requirement is. Shawls can be worn both at outdoor and indoor events which can provide a beautiful style statement along with a traditional touch. The finest shawls of ancient times were said to be made from materials so delicate and flexible, that the shawl could be pulled through a wedding ring without snagging. Now-a-days, with the easiness of import and export, several kinds of shawls are available in the market, all over the world. When selecting a shawl, apart from the color and design, it is always recommended that you test the weave of the fabric to make sure it is strong.
With the latest trends in fashion, shawls are worn around the body in different patterns and style. A gorgeous sari, matching jewelry, little make-up and a shawl is what you can imagine about the perfect traditional outfit that would suit in several kind of occasion, making its own style statement.