Kinnauri shawl is the name given to a type of shawl manufactured in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. With its roots grounded in the ancient tradition of the region, the designing techniques are greatly influenced by Central Asia and Tibet. Kinnauri shawls are well-known for their intricate geometric designs and finesse in weaving.
Objects of religious importance are weaved on these shawls with colours of mythological origins. The fine colours used have a meaning on their own with green signifying ether, blue-sky, white-water, yellow standing for the earth and red for fire. The five primary colours used signifies the five elements of Nature. Different shades of these colours are used based on their requirements.
Most of the shawls for commercial use are woven on the frame loom, though the ones for local use are woven on the pit-loom. Here, the weaver weaves it in two pieces of half-width each and later joins them from the centre with elaborate hand stitching. On average, it takes around 45 days to complete a single shawl.
The colour and texture come together in geometry and mythology forming a tapestry of chants. There are different types of shawls, that with a pattern along both ends of the shawl, Kinnauri teen (three) patti, all over kinnauri work or those with the pattern running across the four edges. There is always one to suit your taste.
In October 2010, these intricately patterned woolen shawls, hand-woven by the indigenous community of Kinnaur district, Himachal Pradesh for generations was granted a patent under the Geographical Indications (GIs) of Goods Act, 1999 by the Government of India. This was done to prevent any unauthorized production, imitation as well as misuse of the brand name of ‘Kinnauri Shawl’ originating from a place, other than the place of origin. With it, the rightful title and heritage of the shawl were restored to the custody of indigenous artisans of the region.
In an age of power looms and outsourced sweatshops, the artisans of Kinnaur still retain the choice and the time to weave on a traditional pit loom. Thus, Kinnaur also hailed as the “Land of God” gifts us with this unrivaled souvenir to remember her better, in vivid hues forever and ever….!!!