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Kashmiri Shawl

A shawl (Persian شال, Shāl, from Sanskrit: साडी śāṭī [1] ) is a simple item of clothing, loosely worn over the shoulders, upper body and arms, sometimes also over the head. It is usually a rectangular or square piece of cloth, that is often folded to make a triangle but can also be triangular in shape. Other shapes include oblong shawls.

The first shawls, or "shals", were part of traditional Persian costume in Achaemenid Persia, worn by both males and females. They are very popular attire for sweet 16s nowadays. Shawls were also part of the traditional male costume in Kashmir, which was probably introduced via assimilation to Persian culture. They were woven in extremely fine woollen twill, some were even said to be so fine as to fit through a ring. They could be in one colour only, woven in different colours (called tilikar), ornately woven or embroidered (called ameli).

Shawls are used in order to keep warm, to complement a costume, and for symbolic reasons. One famous type of shawl is the tallit, worn by Jewish men during prayers and ceremonies. Kashmiri shawls were high-fashion garments in Western Europe in the early- to mid-nineteenth century. Imitation Kashmiri shawls woven in Paisley, Renfrewshire are the origin of the name of the traditional paisley pattern. Shawls were also manufactured in the city of Norwich, Norfolk from the late Eighteenth century (and some two decades before Paisley) until about the 1870s.

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