How to spot a genuine Kullu Shawl.

A guide to buying authentic hand and loom woven Himalayan garments in a market flooded by identical machine made products .


Does human endeavor matter to you?

Since the Kullu Shawl first made a breakthrough in the world market for its traditional Himalayan charm, it has spawned hordes of imitations outside the valley of its birth produced by makers not even remotely alive.

Where once the refined woolen required skills and dexterity, machines have taken over, producing larger volumes at more economical prices. Surprisingly, in this contest between man and machine, a majority of shoppers are siding against the hard put efforts of their fellow humans (see Times of India article: Kullu shawl, made in Ludhiana).

Unlike regular fashion wear, a heritage product, like this handcrafted shawl which sometimes takes days to put together, is more than just another piece of garment to leave around in the wardrobe to gather dust then discard when trends change. It is the cultural and historical identity of a people and the fruit of human endeavor no machine, no matter now advanced can replicate, supplant or should be allowed to steal.

Like its predecessor the ‘Handloom mark’ (red tag in the photo) that clearly separates machine made apparels from pure handcrafted garments, the ‘Geographical Indication mark’ (white tag in the photo) is suggestive of its origin – in this case the Kullu valley. Both tags are to help connoisseurs and shoppers alike easily recognize the genuine product.

Another sure shot way of getting the ‘real deal’ is to pick a shop that stakes its reputation for handcrafted excellence – such as Bhuttico (see Farbound.Net Business Story: Bhutti Weavers Co-operative Society) the weavers community that played a prominent role in getting the GI tag implemented for the benefit of all producers in the valley.

Buying a hand made heritage garment is to not only encourage the survival of ancient skills, within the valley and across the world, but to respect that same human ingenuity that brought us to this present day.

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