Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan /Bloomberg

From Goats to Luxurious Wraps: Pashmina in Pictures

Let's give a round of applause to the goats! Mind you, they are no ordinary goats. The shaggy, wide-horned beasts produce pashmina, a luxuriant material that can fetch as much as $200,000 for a shawl in Paris boutiques. The journey begins here, on the sparsely populated plains of the Himalayas. Photographs by Prashanth Vishwanathan for Bloomberg

  1. Where It Begins
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    Where It Begins

    The rugged valleys of Kharnak, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India, are home to nomadic shepherds and their flocks. The nomads and their families raise pashmina goats in these harsh climes to produce pashmina wool.

    Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan /Bloomberg
  2. The Pashmina Goats
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    The Pashmina Goats

    The wool of these shaggy, wide-horned goats is what cashmere, a silky soft fabric, is made of.

    Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan /Bloomberg
  3. Watching the Flocks by Day
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    Watching the Flocks by Day

    Families from August to October guide their flocks along precipitous cliff paths, risking avalanches and cloudbursts, to meet buyers who come from as far as France to obtain raw wool.

    Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan /Bloomberg
  4. And by Night
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    And by Night

    A tent is lit up at night in the valley of Kharnak, where temperatures can fall to minus 40 degrees Celsius during the seven-month winter.

    Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan /Bloomberg
  5. Shearing Time
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    Shearing Time

    The goatherds get $40 (2,700 rupees) per kilogram of raw wool, less if they’re offered meat or cloth as compensation. One goat yields about 80 to 170 grams (3 to 6 ounces) of fiber.

    Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan /Bloomberg
  6. Processing the Wool
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    Processing the Wool

    The wool goes through the dehairing process in the Valley Wool factory at Zakura Industrial estate in Srinagar, India.

    Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan /Bloomberg
  7. Weaving Magic
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    Weaving Magic

    Once the wool is processed and spun, weavers take over to produce the fabric that will eventually become a pashmina shawl. The material is woven on hand looms. Kashmiri shawls are produced by two techniques, either loom-woven to produce Kani shawls or needle-embroidered to produce Sozni shawls.

    Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan /Bloomberg
  8. The Artistry
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    The Artistry

    Wooden sticks, known as kani, are used to weave different colors of pashmina threads to produce a shawl. Kani shawls are sometimes woven in one piece but are mostly woven in small segments, which are then skillfully sewn together.

    Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan /Bloomberg
  9. The Craftsmen
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    The Craftsmen

    A design regulated by a coded pattern known as the Talim hangs from a loom to act as a guide for the weavers. It usually takes two craftsmen more than a year to produce a Kani shawl. In some cases the period of weaving even stretches to five years, depending on the intricacy of the design.

    Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan /Bloomberg
  10. Voilà!
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    Voilà!

    The finished shawls can fetch as much as $200,000 each in the boutiques of Paris and New York.

    Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan /Bloomberg