Cashmere fiber is also known as ‘pashm’ which is Persian for wool or a word derived from ‘pashm’ called ‘pashmina’. Cashmere was traditionally used by people in Kashmir as handmade shawls. The reference to cashmere clothing appears in Mughal texts between 3rd century BC and 11th century AD.
According to cashmere history, the first traditional industry for cashmere wool clothing was set up by a Kashmiri ruler, Zayn-ul-Abidin. He introduced Turkestan weavers to the country. As the years progressed, the industry developed. In the 18th century and 19th century cashmere goats were imported from Tibet and other western regions of China and Kashmir for an industrial cashmere shawl production.
Given the wars in the region, the shawls were introduced to the British and French Chief of Army during the wars. It is said that when they sent the shawls home, an immediate uproar for the luxurious and soft fabric began. Thus, plans were set in motion for manufacturing cashmere shawls in France and Britain.
By the middle of the 18th century, cashmere shawls were woven in French industries. Later different machineries were also invented to ease the process of cashmere weaving. The cashmere fever soon spread to the West where many textile centers wanted to get their hands on the fabulous material. It was soon figured out that cashmere goats cannot be bred anywhere else other than China, Tibet or northern regions of Kashmir. So import/export of cashmere wool began with China taking the lead position.