Shawls, scarves, wraps, throws, and kerchiefs have all been a traditional article of clothing, as well as an ornamental piece of art, for an innumerable amount of cultures spanning across the globe and throughout time. The multi-purpose clothing, accessories, and decorations have only gained more popularity as time goes on. The word shawl is actually native to Persian culture, and is derived from the word Shal (quite a stretch, huh?) The use of the word, and the shawls importance in Persian culture lead many to believe this garment originated in Persia. However this is hard to verify. The design, and idea, or a loose fitting cloth draped over the shoulders, or waist has been seen in many cultures traditional clothing.
It is our (slightly biased) opinion that the best shawls you can find are the wool, and silk variety of Russian shawls. Traditional Russian shawls and textiles in general, were once produced in large quantities by a plethora of shawl factories in Russia. With the harsh Russian winters, and a culture known for its distinct, and practical fashion, there’s no question of why a warm, comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, natural wool shawl was so popular throughout the country. As we enter the modern age of globalization many of these shawl factories have become unprofitable as skilled labor from Asia could produce the same quality for a cheaper price. There is however one exception, one Russian shawl factory which produced shawls of such a fine quality that replicas and knock-offs would not be suitable, this staple of Russian culture is where all our Russian wool, and silk shawls and scarves are imported from: the Pavlovo Posad Shawl factory located in the Russian town of the same name.
Pavlovo Posad Shawls
It’s no coincidence, nor is a stroke of luck that the Pavlovo Posad Shawl factory, located a few dozen miles from Moscow, is still producing traditional Shawls which are made in Russia as opposed to using outsourced labor, and it’s no fad that their shawls are so highly sought after…
There’s a reason why it’s actually the ONLY factory producing shawls on a large scale in Russia; The Pavlovo Posad Factory produces a product of such a high quality that simply cannot be matched by any other factory outside of the small Russian town which has been passing down the traditions, and skills to make these distinct Russian shawls for over 210 years.
The shawl factory in Pavlovo Posad has been making shawls, wraps, throws, kerchiefs, and the ever popular scarf since it first opened its doors in 1795, and aside from a brief period of inactivity in the years following the Bolshevik revolution, it’s been producing awe inspiring wool shawls, and silk scarves ever since. While other textile factories in Pavlovo Posad has given up on the shawl, and started making fire hoses, or whatever else they could produce to stay profitable, the world demand of the multiple award winning shawls from Pavlosky Posad allowed this factory to keep making their wool and silk garments.
All of our shawls come from the famous Pavlovo Posad Shawl Factory.
Ways To Tie Your Russian Shawl
There's a hundred different ways you can tie your shawl on your body... on your shoulders, on your head tied under chin as "Babushka," tied in the back but around your head, like in the 70's, "Gypsy" style over your forehead, as a head band, as a neck tie, as a decorative bib, tied over one shoulder, as a holster top, as a hip hugger skirt, as a belt, etc...
What is an Orenburg shawl?
An Orenburg shawl is a very thin, yet warm and strong, lacey shawl that originated in Orenburg, Russia in the 18th century. It is made from cashmere-like down fur of the Orenburg goat. It is commonly called "wedding ring shawls" because it can literally fit through a wedding ring band.
What makes Orenburg shawls and scarves so unique?
The biggest difference between an Orenburg shawl and any other shawl is the fact that they can only be made from goats in Orenburg. Goats from any other region do not have the ultra fine hair that the Orenburg’s goats have. This is due to the very cold climate and harsh snowy Winters that the Orenburg region has. In fact, when Orenburg goats were transported to France in order to make more of these beautiful shawls, it did not work because the goat’s hair changed with the climate.
Another special thing about these shawls is that even though they are very thin, they are very durable; even more so than wool.
You can find Orenburg shawls in a variety of thickness, sizes, and patterns.
A variety of uses and ways to wear an Orenburg shawl!
Well, the most known way is to simply toss the shawl around the shoulders… however, with an Orenbug shawl, the "over the shoulder" can be done in many ways, depending on how you fold the shawl. Then, of course, there is around the head, the neck, and the other usual scarf/shawl wrap-around.
Another great way to wear an Orenburg shawl, and a beautiful use of one as well, is to wrap the large, soft, and warm shawl around a baby. Similar to the royal baby pictured below. Orenburg shawls are breathable, yet very warm and cozy, making them ideal for babies.
Fun facts about Orenburg shawls:
- Some Orenburg scarves are called pautinka or gossamer, literally meaning "spider-web."
- It has its own song! The Orenburg Shawl Song!
- Orenburg goat’s down, which is similar to cashmere, has unique heat retaining properties and is reputedly the finest in the word.
- All of the down used to make this shawl comes from goats that are free to range the Orenburg hill-sides for much of the year. Orenburg goats are not bred or reared for the manufacturing industry and are never de-horned or culled.
- The Orenburg goat’s hair is combed out manually by special "combs," and not cut down like other types of down and wool. During the year there can only be no more than 350 g (0.6-0.7 ounces) of down combed out of one Orenburg goat.
- The downy hair of an Orenburg goat is the world’s thinnest. It has a thickness of 16 to 18 micrometers (while the angora goat has downy hair with a thickness 22 to 24 micrometer).
How to care for your shawl:
Down handiworks like Orenburg shawls need careful and proper upkeep.
- Wash your Orenburg shawl in a small tub, basin, or sink using tepid water (temperature no more 100 degrees Fahrenheit). Use mild detergents designated for wools and silks. Gently squeeze the shawl with your hands, about 8 to 10 times. Shawls should not be rubbed, twisted, or pulled while washing. In order to rinse it, squeeze the excess of the water and put it aside.
- Change the water you washed your shawl to clean water. Rinse the shawl in warm water. A small amount of vinegar (about a teaspoon) may be used as a rinsing agent. Rinse out without twisting, using the same motions as you did for washing your shawl. If necessary, change the rinsing water for couple of times in order to rinse out the detergent completely.
- Without pulling or twisting, lay your cleaned shawl on a spread out towel. Roll the towel with the shawl in it and slightly press on it in order to blot out the moisture. Remove the shawl from the towel and spread it on a flat surface, like a bed or table. Shape it with your palms to the original size and dry at room temperature. It is desirable to stretch the shawl on a wooden frame with rustproof pins while drying (see image).
- If you need or want to iron your shawl (though it’s not recommended), iron the shawl with a warm iron through gauze or other thin cotton material.
- Store your shawl only in "breathable" cotton pouch or pillow case. Do not store it in plastic bag.
Following these instructions, your shawl is sure to please you and will give you beauty, warmth, and tenderness.