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We had been receiving emails from Sherpa Pashmina for some time, but had ignored them. Finally, we got curious enough to answer one. Soon afterward we received a sample pack of cashmere and silk shawls of many sizes, colors and qualities. We estimated that the cost was probably at least $300, including courier fees. After that we knew they were serious, and scheduled a trip to Nepal to meet them.
On the last night, Maya invited me to dinner, and when we reached an open area with a bonfire, I found myself surrounded by 6 Buddhist monks in robes that she had also invited. They were friends of hers. A fascinating evening with some very interesting company.
Kathmandu is Disneyland for textile lovers. Although it’s located in a remote valley in the Himalayas, it’s a cultural crossroads of Northern India, Mongolia, the Tibetan Plateau and Eastern China. Silk brocades, pashminas and linens representing many textile traditions are found in Kathmandu’s ancient crowded streets. Interestingly, Kathmandu merchants import silk and cashmere yarn from China and raw wool from New Zealand and export their finished products all over the world. Quite a feat for a land-locked country at the roof of the world!
Because their products are so well finished, it’s easy to lose sight of the amount of hand-work in them. Typically, the scarves are woven and then washed in big tubs, dyed in small batches in similar tubs, then washed again. The tassels are hand-knotted one by one. This is a trade item that goes back many centuries.