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Russian Shawls

V.Surikov. Portait

Shawls have been a part of traditional Russian Women’s costumes since the 18th Century. The original home of the shawl was Kashmir in India. In the 19th century, Russian manufacturers introduced worsted weaving yarns and began producing their own garments. The most well known Russian shawls are those made in Pavlovo Posad factory, shawls which are very colourful and have an extensive variety of designs, Orenburg shawls that date back as far as the 17th century and made entirely by hand. They are handspuned and handknitted from the finest down of goats in the region of Orenburg near Ural Mountains.


Orenburg Shawl

Russian Orenburg Shawls have natural colors of the goats and can be white, grey or brown. Prices depend on size, on quality of threads used for making of the shawls and, of course, on quality of work. Each woman makes her own shawls with her own lacy ornaments and patterns.
In Russia with cold and long winters women used to wear these shawl everyday especially in country area. Each woman has at least two shawls - one for everyday usage and other one for holidays.

Many people ask what kind of material (wool) is used fro knitting of the Orenburg shawls. Authentic Orenburg shawls are made of goat down. Sometimes people by mistake call the down "cashmere" but this is not exactly so. People in Orenburg area breed species of goats that give not only milk but perfect soft and light down.

Goat down shawls are durable in usage, and the more shawl is used the more attractive it is.
Russian Orenburg shawls are really hand-made, they are produced in limited amount and each shawl is different and unique.

Orenburg Shawl Factory was established in 1960 in order provide growing demand for high quality goat down shawls for affording price. More than 30 small work-shops were organized into large enterprise. Many years were spent to organize manufacturing process, to develop, produce and tune unique machines and equipment and to gain a priceless experience.

Manufacturing of Orenburg shawls at the factory is the full cycle process beginning from gathering raw goat down and wool and ending of production of goods and utilization of scrap.
Orenburg goats down shawls are unique products and they demand unique equipment, unique technological process and high skill of workers. In past Orenburg shawls were handspun and hand knitted, a shawl-maker should spend about 2 weeks to weave a quality shawl not counting efforts and time spent for preparing yarn and threads. In the end quality of a ready shawl greatly depended on qualification of a weaver and its price was so higher that not many women could afford to wear beautiful shawls.

Nowadays the main part of Orenburg shawls, scarves, tippets, cobwebs are knitted by hand, only most labour-intensive and routine operation are made by machines. It allows knitters to concentrate only on creative operation of shawl knitting. The fact that some operations are machine made does not degrade quality of shawls and specific features of real hand-made Orenburg shawls but makes these items more perfect.

Pavlovo Posad Shawl

Among unique, well-known in the world products, presenting pride and glory of Russia, a particular place occupies shawls from an ancient town of Pavlovsky Posad. Every year "Pavlovo Posad Shawl Manufactory issues 200 kinds of shawls, scarves of natural fibres: wool, cotton, silk.

Pavlovo Posad is an ancient Russian town about 60 kilometres from Moscow. It is well known as the home of hereditary textile workers. The Pavlovo Posad factory for production of woollen shawls was founded in 1795 by Ivan Labsin.

In the very beginning shawls were woven of yarns. It took much time to produce shawls and as a result those shawls were quite expensive. A single shawl could take up to 18 months to complete. During the 19th century different and more cost effective methods were used in the manufacturer. Highly skilled weavers and designers were sought after as the demand grew.
There are many different operations have to be made for giving birth to unique in its qualities Pavlovo Posad shawl! Its production technology combines a careful attitude to the traditions and the using of the most advanced achievements of scientific and technical ideas.

Gradually printed woollen shawls replaced costly color woven shawls. Some of the elaborate color weaving was replaced by printed designs. Until late in the 19th Century shawls were decorated by means of hard wood block printing.

In the 1937 Paris World Fair Pavlovo Posad was awarded the Grand Prix of the whole exhibition. Pavlovo Posad was internationally recognized as the masters of shawl design and quality. After the Second World War a new generation of designers won the Major award at the Brussels World Trade Fair in 1959.


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