It is said that cashmere manufacturing has really ancient origins. It seems that Marco Polo, at the end of the XII cent., had already been dazzled by the beauty and the softness of the fleeces used by Turkmens and Tartars.
According to some Oriental legends mixed with reality, in 1400, the sultan of Kashmir Bud Shah – known as the Great King, descendent of Genghis Khan– as a lover of beauty invited to court a Turkestan textile worker and ordered him to realize shawls worthy of a king. The man obeyed and thus he introduced into the court fine pashminas (from Persian pashm=wool) designed for the maharajah. They were items of unique lightness.
With the passing of time, these precious stoles came out of the exclusiveness of courts and became part of the life of the well-off, as a status symbol. Since that time uppers classes have been using those items as wedding gift from the groom to the bride – the future husband still uses to pass the shawl into the wedding ring before giving it to the fiancée.
Only in the XVIII and XIX cent. cashmere was introduced into European courts. The first time was during the French campaign in Egypt (1792), when Napoleonic soldiers fought against the Turkish army and looted the botteh – fine triangular shawls made of cashmere issued to Turkish officials – to give them to their wives as a war loot. Subsequently, thanks to the Indian Company, those fine designed shawls spread first in the Victorian England and in the Napoleonic France, later they started embellishing European noblewomen’s pure white Neoclassical dresses.
Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour – an Italian leading statesman in the movement towards the country’s unification – foreseeing the economic potentialities of cashmere, tried to set up a breeding farm for cashmere goats, but without any success: Italian climate is not good for that.