Where does the word “cashmere” originate from?
The history of cashmere and its name are closely tied to the Kashmir Valley, a place of astounding beauty. The valley is located approximately two thousand meters above the sea level, between the Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range. The fourth padishah of the Mughal empire was so impressed by the view of the valley that he named it “Paradise on Earth”. The tourists who visit the Kashmir valley now, poetically call it the Venice of Hindustan. Interestingly enough, it has not always existed. According to the legends, which have been confirmed by hinduist historical sources and, partially, Ptolemy, way back in the day a large lake was located in the Himalayas.
A legend says that a wise sage Kashyapa emptied the lake by making a channel in the mountain range and thus the valley was formed. It was soon filled with picturesque forests, blue lakes, and sweet- smelling flowers. Paleontologists have stood behind this legend by informing of the discovery of marine fossils in the valley. According to one version, the Kashmir valley has actually gotten its name after the old sage Kashyapa. Another version, in turn, claims that the valley got its name from Sanskrit words ka (water), and śimīra (to dry). This is translated as “dried water” or “dried lands”.
And the name Kashmir, in turn, gave the name to the unique material cashmere since the Kashmir valley is the home of cashmere and has remained the traditional place of its production for thousands of years.
Linguists and ethnographers search for the origins of the Kashmir valley and cashmere to this day. Whichever of their versions is right, we know the fabric specifically under the name “cashmere”. So let us leave the research to scientists and focus on enjoying the unique qualities of cashmere created in this unique place.